15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. Blain made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as themember for the Northern Territory.
– Has the Prime Minister been informed that the Chief Commissioner for Railways in Victoria, Mr. Clapp, has stated that the Newport Railway Workshops are admirably suited for the construction of aircraft, and will the right honorable gentleman obtain the views of Mr. Clapp, and of the other State railways commissioners, as to the suitability of State railways workshops for the work incidental to the mechanization of defence units?
– The position is that, when the Government decided to examine the extent to which private industry could co-operate with government munition and other factories in time of national emergency, it also determined to make use, as far as possible, of existing State organizations. An investigation is now being carried out to ascertain the extent to which the works to which the honorable member has referred, and other works under the control of the States,can cooperate with the Commonwealth Government.
Mr.Curtin. -Will trial orders bo given to these works, as in the case of private manufacturers ?
– We are examining the position and, if that is necessary, it will be done.
– Last week I drew attention to the fact that, owing to a severe cyclone, many homes, public buildings, factories andsaw-mills at Beaudesert had been destroyed, and that there was a shortage of galvanized iron to the extent of 1,500 sheets in the reconstruction of those buildings. Will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs state whether his officers have yet carried out the promised investigation as to whether the requisite iron could be made available at once?
– Following the request of the honorable member, officers of the department got into communication with the manufacturers, and we have received word this morning that sufficient iron to meet the requirements of the people of Beaudesert is being forwarded from Lysaght’s factory at Port Kembla.
– Has the Acting Minister for Commerce received any information from the ministerial delegation now overseas which would support the suggestion emanating from some quarters that the marketing of Australian primary produce in Great Britain might be rendered more difficult in the future, as the result of the trade negotiations now proceeding?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that no communication of that nature has been received.
– In view of the widespread interest taken by the citizens of Australia in the proposed national insurance scheme, ‘ will the Treasurer make available to honorable members extra copies of the bill dealing with national insurance, when it is. introduced, and also copies of the honorable gentleman’s second-reading speech?
– I shall be glad to do that.
– Will the Treasurer state whether it is a fact that the Government proposes to establish an Australian standards laboratory in Sydney, an aeronautical . testing and research laboratory at Fishermen’s Bend, and a chair of aeronautics? Has any decision been reached as to where the chair of aeronautics is to be established ? If not, will the Minister give consideration to the very convincing arguments appearing in yesterday’s press put forward by Mr. L. J. Hartnett and Professor T. H. Laby in favour of the establishment of the chair of aeronautics at the Melbourne University?
– As to the first part of the question, it is true that the National Standards Laboratory will be established in the grounds of the Sydney University, and that the Aeronautical Research Laboratory will be located at Fishermen’s Bend. Owing to the number of important matters which the Government has had to consider in recent weeks, it has not yet reached a conclusion with respect to the recommended allocation of the Chair of Aeronautics as between the two principal universities of Melbourne and Sydney,’ but I hope that it will soon be able to give proper consideration to’ the claims of the two principal capital cities with regard to this matter.
– On Thursday last, in answer to a question by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I stated that the report of the Tariff Board concerning the question of the manufacture of motor car engines in Australia was at present with the Tariff Board, to which it had been returned for further information. I regret that this statement was made under a misapprehension. I now find that the additional information required from the board was handed to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) by the chairman of the board just before his embarkation for the United Kingdom with the ministerial trade delegation. The Minister has cabled to say that he is submitting proposals for the consideration of the Government.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received a report from Chief Judge Dethridge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court recommending a medical inquiry into silicosis, which has occurred among the operative stonemasons of Australia ?
– I am not aware of any such request, but 1 shall look into the matter.
– In connexion with the Loan Council and the “ gentlemen’s agreement,” does the Treasurer propose to take any action which will remove from certain States those advantages which they have obtained under it over other States?
– The Government has no particular proposal under consideration at the moment, but, if any honorable gentlemanhas any proposal to make that would lead to an improvement of the methods of public finance in Australia, the Government will be only too pleased to take the matter into consideration.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me whether the departmenthas yet completed the survey, and prepared the plans, for the Mackay post office, and, if so, when the work will be proceeded with ?
– I shall make inquiries regarding the matter, and inform the honorable member later.
– Is it a fact that the Mascot telephone exchange was to be converted to automatic working by the 30th June, 1939, and is it also a fact that it will not be possible to obtain the required equipment prior to June, 1939? Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral see that arrangements are made to expedite the supply of the equipment, so that the exchange maybe converted to automatic working as early as possible?
– I shall take steps to do as the honorable member suggests.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in a position to inform the House when the report dealing with the remuneration received by men and women in charge of non-official post offices will be made available to honorable members?
– The report has been received and is now being considered by the Postmaster-General and the DirectorGeneral of Post and Telegraphs. A, statement on the subject will be made later.
– Can the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General say what is the result of the interview with the Transport Workers Union in connexion with the refusal of wharf labourers to load scrap iron destined for Germany on theStassfurt?
– I shall place the matter before my colleague, the Acting Attorney-General, and let the honorable member know what is being done.
– Has the Government yet come to a decision regarding the export of 25,000,000 tons of iron ore to Japan within 25 years?
– The matter is under consideration, and I hope to make an early statement in regard to it.
– Last week the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) asked a question relating to a stock disease in New Zealand. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that a cable from the New Zealand Government dealing with facial eczema in stock has been received to-day. According to information contained therein, facial eczema affecting sheep and some cattle is confined to the North Island, principally in the Waikato district. The South Island is reported by the New Zealand Government to be free. The trouble is actually caused by nutritional disturbances culminating in photo-sensitivity. The matter has already been investigated in South Africa, and is reported upon in the Onderstepoort Journal, and also in the New Zealand Live Stock Journal of February last. The New Zealand Government is prepared to guarantee the health of all animals exported. There are two types of eczema in Australia, neither being very serious. No sheep are at present being imported from New Zealand. Every necessary procedure is in operation to protect Australia from the introduction of this disease.
– In answer to corre spondence which I addressed to the then Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) about the middle of last year, asking that permission be given for the establishment of rifle clubs in Western Australia, the Minister replied on the 27th December last that the matter -would be considered in connexion with the Estimates for 1938-39. Can the present Minister for Defence say whether action along the lines promised has been taken?
– All requests for the establishment of rifle clubs are considered by the military authorities, whose recommendations are based on priority of claim and the best uses to which the areas can be put. Some applications are of fairly long standing.
– “Will the Minister supply a list in respect of Western Australia?
– I shall do so.
– Is the Minister in charge of Development aware that certain persons are circulating rumours that the investigation into the rabbit virus is being held up out of consideration for the manufacturers of wire netting; and can he give an assurance that no such consideration will be allowed to interfere with the proper scientific investigation of the subject?
– I can assure the honorable member and all other persons interested that there is no truth in such rumours. The work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with the myxomatosis is being pressed on with and nothing will be allowed to stand in its way. No representations have been made to the Government that the investigation should be delayed.
– In view of his undertaking to have a statement prepared showing the comparative superannuation and pension schemes for all ranks of the Australian Defence Forces and the fighting forces of the United Kingdom, can the Treasurer say whether, in the event of such comparison being unfavorable to “the Australian forces, steps will be taken to make more generous provision for them?-
– The figures in connexion with the comparison to which the honorable member has referred are now being compiled. When they are ready, I shall refer the whole matter to Cabinet for consideration.
– Last week the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked a question in relation to red-water fever. I am now able to inform him that there has been a recent outbreak of tick fever in the north coast area of New South Wales within the infected area and the Department has full particulars. These outbreaks occur at intervals in the infected area. The Tick Control Board has the matter fully in hand. The necessary staff i3 stationed in the affected areas which are being properly looked after. The Tick Control Board, however, is gradually reducing the infected area by a process of eradication. Some men who can be spared from the more heavily infected areas have been withdrawn to the area in which eradication is being effected. The tick-infected area is thus being reduced year by year, and “the district in which outbreaks are now occurring and in- which the disease is at present being controlled, will, in turn, be subjected to eradication measures.
– -Last year I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral for information regarding the construction of a post office at Proserpine, and was informed that £1,000 would be expended on the work during this financial year, and further sums later. Can the Minister say what the present position is?
Mr. -PERKINS.- I shall obtain the information asked for by the honorable member.
– Can the Acting Minister for Commerce supply the following information: - What was the average yearly price of frozen beef at Smithfield market for each year from 1930 to 1937 inclusive? What was the average price paid yearly for fat cattle in Queensland for the same period? What were the freight rates, Australia to London, for the same period?
– I shall obtain the information and supply it to the honorable member.
– In view of the fact that a good dead of land has been resumed in Darwin for aerial and naval requirements, and that it is rumoured that other resumptions are to be effected in the business area, will the Minister for Defence give some indication as to when the authorities will decide what land they want in Darwin so that boundaries may be delineated?
– In conjunction with the Minister for the Interior, I have considered a report dealing with the necessary resumptions in and around the town of Darwin to meet the requirements of the naval and military authorities. That report is being submitted to Cabinet for final decision.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That notice of motion No. 1, Government Business, “ That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for insurance against certain contingencies affecting employees, and the wives, children, widows and orphans of employees, and for other purposes,” be postponed until the next day of- sitting.
.- I oppose this procedure on the ground that, at this stage of the work of this Parliament, we ought to adhere to what is put upon the notice-paper for our consideration, more particularly when I know that when this matter comes up again to-morrow the Treasurer will seek leave to do certain things which he would not be able to do but for leave, or unless be secured the suspension of the Standing Orders. The practice of the Parliament is, and the Standing Orders provide, that leave shall be given to introduce a bill for a specific purpose, and when that leave is given a date is fixed for the first reading of the bill. The normal practice of this Commonwealth Parliament until recent years ought to be again re-established if we are to make certain of the deliberative competence of this Parliament. I know that to-morrow this matter will come up for decision by the House, and as soon as that is done it is almost a certainty that the Treasurer will say, “ The bill is here,” and move the first reading of it. And then he will want to make his second-reading speech. But if leave be given to introduce this bill to-day, the Treasurer could then move that the first reading be made an order of the day for to-morrow, and thus tomorrow he would be in. the same situation that he would be in by postponing the matter, except that to-mOrrow he would not be obliged to ask leave of the House for a certain procedure, which, I submit, the House ought not to permit except in a situation of emergency. I rise to oppose the postponement of this matter until to-morrow for the reasons which I have given, and because I believe that the Standing Orders and the practice of the Parliament ought to be adhered to unless exceptional reasons can be shown that to do so would be undesirable in the national interest. It ought not to be done merely as a convenience to Ministers, however much I would be prepared to consider the convenience of Ministers as a general rule. There is too much slackness in respect of the consideration of business before this Parliament, and at this stage I enter this protest. We shall vote against the motion in order that we may make it clear that we desire the Government, when it places business on the notice-paper, to go ahead with it at least on the day for which notice is given.
– It has become necessary for the
Government, in the arrangement of its business, to postpone the introduction of the bill for 24 hours. The subject matter of the measure is a very large one indeed, and it is not at all possible to foresee all the eventualities that may arise in connexion with it. For that reason the Government is obliged, as is. not frequently the case, to ask the indulgence of honorable members in this particular way. I do not remember, certainly in respect of myself, any former occasion on which I have been obliged to ask the indulgence of the House with respect to the postponement of a motion for the introduction of a measure, nor do I remember many occasions on which other Ministers have done likewise, although, possibly, it may have been done in some instances. The passing of this motion is not likely to create any precedent. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) that it bus been the practice and, possibly, the increasing practice, to ask leave of the House to make a second reading speech on the same dayas a bill has been read a first time; but that, if I may say so, is for the convenience not of Ministers, but of honorable members generally, so that they may have a reasonably adequate description of the measure in their minds at the same time as they get the bill itself. In many instances a bill, if taken by itself and without explanation, does, to say the least of it, create considerable difficulties in the minds of all honorable members, and without a rational description of its contents they are unable to comprehend what it is about.
– It is not necessary to have a bill read a second time on the day on which leave to introduce it is given.
– The practice which has become usual of asking leave to make a second reading speech is followed for the convenience and information of honorable members generally.
– That is absurd.
– I submit that the motion before the House is not an unreasonable one.
Question put. - The House divided. (Mr.speaker.- Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Debate resumed from the 29th April, (vide page 678), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure under which the Treasurer seeks authority to raise by loan the sum of £10,300,000, constitutes one of the steps by which it is proposed to finance the Government’s expanded defence programme, and before dealing with the question of defence generally I might perhaps be permitted to reply in broad outline to criticism which has been levelled, not against the defence programme itself, but against the financial proposals contained in the bill.
The first criticism levelled against the measure is, I think, on the score that it does not contain sufficient information. I take it that in the defence estimates submitted in future years there will be set out in detail what the Government proposes to do with the money it now desires to raise, and that we shall then have ample opportunity to approve or criticize, as the case may be.
– That is right! Pass the £10,000,000 first and then see what the Government is going to do with it.
– It is not a bad idea to know what money one will have so that one may cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth. The second point of criticism is that the proposed method of financing the defence programme will impose a burden upon posterity, but in view of evidence supplied by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) himself I feel that posterity has no particular cause to complain of the action of ‘ past governments iu relation to defence expenditure. The honorable member pointed out, upon the authority of Mr. Colin Clark, that Australia’s expenditure upon defence constitutes about 1 per cent, of the national income as compared with G per cent, by Great Britain and J 2 per cent, by France. I point out to the honorable member that posterity is already bearing a very heavy burden as the result of expenditure incurred during the Great War, and I am sure it will gladly bear this additional, but very much smaller, load, if, by doing so, it will be spared a repetition of that Armageddon.
– But money spent from loan funds is not expended out of national income.
– N”o, but it is ultimately paid for out of national income. My point is that neither the present Government nor any preceding Governments can be held to have spent money upon defence out of proportion to the national income. If Great Britain finds that an expenditure of 6 per cent, of its national income i3 a good insurance premium for the protection, of that country, and if France finds that an expenditure of 12 per cent, of the national income is a sound investment in similar circumstances, it can, ! think, scarcely be held that an expenditure of 1 per cent, of our national income is in any way excessive for the protection of Australia.
The third point of criticism - one that may perhaps be taken more seriously - is that in practice it is unsound to borrow money overseas for defence purposes: With that criticism I entirely agree and I sincerely hope that the Government does not propose to finance its defence programme by borrowing outside the Commonwealth of Australia. Borrowing overseas may be regarded as desirable in certain circumstances - for instance, for the carrying out of works which are clearly of a reproductive character - but it cannot be justified for defence purposes save on the score of emergency, or if the money cannot be raised within the Commonwealth itself.
Personally, I would make some criticism of the statement by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that the Defence Department is the only department the financial proposals of which have not been restricted in any way during the current financial year. I hope this lapse from the Treasurer’s customary canniness is only temporary. It would, 1 think, be highly undesirable that the Defence Department should feel that it has simply to indicate a programme and the Government will provide the necessary finance. The Defence Department is a. Government department and its officers are human, like officers of other departments, and I consider that there should be the same close scrutiny by the Treasurer of the expenditure of this department as there is of the operations of other public services.
The broad basis of the Government’s defence policy can be stated very briefly. It is based upon close co-operation ‘ with the other countries comprised in the British Empire. It relies primarily upon British naval power and the protection afforded Australia by the Singapore base. It is .also based upon adequate local defence against sporadic raids or invasion. One is sorely tempted to engage in a debate with the Opposition upon the policy it has set up by way of contrast. But surely only a very cursory examination is necessary to indicate how hopelessly the Opposition has overlooked the realities of our situation in framing the policy of isolation which it advocates, and under which it ignores interference with trade routes and concentrates simply on the defence of Australia against aggression by an external force. Such a policy ignores the realities of the economic situation of this country. It may perhaps be applicable to a closed economic unit. Australia must rely upon the profitable disposal overseas of its surplus primary products to ensure economic progress, and so long as that condition prevails it is essential that some combination of the British Empire and its allies should control our trade routes.
– We would not starve in this country even in war time.
– If we could- set up adequate reserves of fuel oil and rubber and foodstuffs such as tea, coffee and other similar imported commodities, which are now essential to the life of the community, we might reach a stage where we could be regarded as a closed economy ; but I doubt whether such a state of affairs will prevail ‘ in the lifetime of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker). Until that stage is reached we must face realities and recognize that, until we can be assured of control of our trade routes, we can be blockaded by a hostile power. While such a state of affairs exists, we are compelled to rely upon British sea power and the command of the sea which may be exercised by Great Britain and the other parts of the Empire.
– The honorable member believes that in the event of war world trade should continue as if nothing had happened.
– It is highly desirable to ensure as far as possible that normal commerce is maintained between Great Britain and Australia even in time of war. Had we not been able to maintain sea communication during the last -war our prospect of success would have been less. The action of the central powers in destroying by submarines so many merchant vessels severely jeopardized the successful conduct of the war by Britain and its allies.
If the defence policy of the Government was put forward as its own and was not supported by expert opinion, as it is, there might be some strength in the attitude of the Opposition ; but I defy honorable members opposite to quote any authority who will not hold that our very existence depends upon the extent to which our sea communication can be kept open. With that end in view, the Government has rightly emphasized the importance of sea power, and the closest possible co-operation between Great Britain and other parts of the Empire. It has ‘also announced that its policy is designed to protect this country against sporadic raids and even against the possibility of invasion. The members of the Opposition have pointed out that the risk of invasion is remote. We agree that it is remote, and Australia is extremely fortunate that it is so. The risk of a man’s house being destroyed by fire is also remote, because very few houses are destroyed in that way ; but he would be a thriftless householder who did not insure his house against the risk of fire. We have a great deal to protect and preserve and, however remote the risk of invasion may be, it exists, and the Government is, rightly, taking action to meet it.
There is another factor to bear in mind. We say that the risk of invasion is remote but it may not always be. It is remote to-day because Great Britain has command of the seas, a command not so strong as in pre-war days, but, nevertheless strong because it does possess the strongest naval force afloat. A recent statement, however, has shown that British naval power may not be sufficiently powerful to ensure open communication by sea. We are planning a defence programme, not for this month or next month, but for many years ahead. Even the programme outlined by the Prime Minister in the speech delivered a few days ago will take the Government three years to complete.
The risk of invasion may . be remote, but we must take adequate measures to meet that eventuality, and if our sea power should not be as strong as it should be, we are forced back on the air arm and the military arm. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) showed very clearly in his admirable speech a few days ago the danger of relying too much upon the air arm. He pointed out that, in the concluding months of the Great War, the casualties of aeroplanes in the Air Force of Great Britain were 50 per cent, a month, and that it was necessary to double the equipment every two months. It is possible that, in the intensive air warfare which we might expect to-day, the percentage of casualties may be even heavier. If that should be the case in this country, it would be impossible to defend it successfully by the air arm. Consequently, we are forced back to what has proved, in aggression or defence, to be the back bone in military operations, the military arm. We have then to consider whether ‘ the Commonwealth military forces would be adequate to meet not only an invasion, but also those sporadic raids’ which we must expect in the event of Great Britain being engaged in hostilities.
Before examining that position, let us envisage what really is required if we are to have a military arm capable of meeting even occasional raids, quite apart from an actual invasion by an expeditionary force. Prior to the Great War, the late Lord Kitchener expressed the opinion that Australia required . a military establishment of about 80,000 men, and that was at a time when Great Britain’s sea power was relatively stronger than it is to-day. At present, we have a militia of under 35,000 volunteers and, consequently, one of the first steps which the Minister for Defence should take to strengthen that arm of the service is to arrange for an immediate survey to be made of our man-power, quota by quota, and to classify those fit for service, the capacity in which they could serve, and those required in key industries. Having that information, the Government should decide on the formation of a highly trained militia force or some permanent military force which would be available to meet the type of aggression we might have to encounter. Unless the Government is prepared to make provision for a highly trained militia force under the voluntary system it is essential, in my judgment, to have a permanent -force comprising at least a mixed mobile brigade, such, as has been suggested by other honorable members, to meet raids which may be made from time to time. Otherwise some form of compulsory military service is essential. A great deal of nonsense has been talked from time to time about this question of compulsory military training. By compulsory military service we do not mean any service greater than that contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. The original Defence Act provided that every able bodied man between the ages of IS and 60 years could, in time of need, be called upon by the Government to defend Australia. Neither the Government’s defence programme nor any suggestion by Government supporters for the introduction of compulsory military service has gone further than that. Such a system would be compulsory for some, but not for all. I would not recommend the creation of a force in excess of 50,000 troops, notwithstanding that there are in Australia at the present time more than 200,000 young men between the ages of 18 and 21 years. Therefore a system of compulsory military service having for its objective a force of 500,000 men, between the ages of IS and 21, would be compulsory for only about one-fourth of the able-bodied men within that age range in. the Commonwealth. At the present time we have a book strength of 34,600 in <the militia forces. The number is low, but we acknowledge the public spiritedness of the men who have come forward voluntarily to fit themselves for the defence of their country in time of danger. They are not all young men, the ages of trainees ranging from IS to 40 years. It should be noted also that for a variety of reasons our effective strength is very much lower than our book strength. In the first place, under the voluntary system the trainees attend parades whenever it suits them. It happens, sometimes, that during the football season men who are interested in that game absent themselves from the Saturday afternoon parades, whilst others whose interest is cricket, fail to attend on Saturday afternoons during the cricket season. Others again may be followers of some other form of sport such as rowing or racing, and the inevitable result is inefficiency in training, confusion and extravagance. Under existing conditions our men are only partly trained, and the turnover of recruits is considerably in excess of what it should be, due to the fact that after a few weeks of training a certain number of men become bored with the drill and drop out.
– The militia forces are not made attractive enough.
– I agree with the honorable member. Much of the training is regarded as irksome, with the result that the majority of the men do not complete their full term of voluntary service. This in turn increases the difficulties of the officers who rarely, if ever, acquire that experience in the handling of large bodies of troops which . is so essential to efficient leadership. I have yet to meet a. militia officer who does not privately condemn the present system of voluntary training.
I am aware that much of the criticism that may be levelled at the voluntary system could also be applied to compulsory training as we knew it.
In 1928-29, when the total strength was 43,600 troops, compared with 34,600 at the present time, the percentage of rejects on the ground of physical unfitness was 32, whereas during the whole period since the introduction of the- voluntary system the rejects have been less than 4 per cent. This shows clearly that the authorities are now accepting recruits of a very much lower physical standard in order to get the numbers required. Any one who has had any personal experience of our militia troops must acknowledge that in physique they are definitely inferior to the units trained during the years when the compulsory system was in force. In 1928-29 expenditure on the army was £1,465,000. For this year an amount of £3,000,000 has been provided. These figures show that in the last year of compulsory training, our troops were 10,000 in excess of present numbers, tlie men were of a very much higher physical standard, and the cost was much lower than it is at the present time.
In advocating a return to some .form of compulsory military training I do not suggest the adoption of the system previously in force in the Commonwealth. I happen to be one of the very few members of this House who have had practical experience as trainees under the compulsory system. I would never, I hope, condemn any young fellow Australian to serve under it because it was irksome to a degree and it was loathed by 90 per cent, of the men. I agree with much of the criticism that lias been levelled against it from the point of view of its lack of attraction and interest for the troops, but I do not agree that it necessarily represents the only system which could be applied to Australian manhood. I am convinced that, by the exorcise of some imagination, the application of some intelligence, and perhaps, an elementary knowledge of the psychology of the young men who. would be required .to serve under it, we could evolve a system that would be so attractive as to induce the enlistment of a sufficient number of young men voluntarily. In the first place
I would suggest the elimination of the half-day parades on Saturdays. They are a great drawback to the present system. They are most objectionable to the great majority of our young men and there is no necessity for such parades. Recruits are expected to attend a number of half-day parades, which are supplemented by continuous training for six days in camp, although, as has been shown by other speakers, the time occupied in travelling to and from camp takes two days, so the actual period of camp training is only four days. In lieu of the halfday parades, provision should be made for a longer period of camp training, say a fortnight or three weeks. The trainees would then get through ten times the amount of work done under the present half-day parade system. “With the total strength of about 50,000 men, the military trainees would be limited to certain quotas of men and probably to certain districts because, as I have shown, there are approximately 200,000 young men of military age in the Commonwealth to draw upon. I do not, however, suggest that we should ignore the rest of our young manhood. After selecting for military service the very best physical types, we could make provision for the physical training of those who do not come up to the standard.
I hope that the Government will investigate the possibility of the adoption of a Commonwealth-wide system of physical training. In Great Britain, much progress ha3 been made in recent months in connexion with the physical fitness campaign which has been inaugurated. A Physical Training and Recreation Act has been passed containing the skeleton of a scheme of physical training throughout Great Britain. This is supplementary to any system of military training that may be introduced. The Government should not neglect the young people who would not be trained under a scheme of military service. Perhaps arrangements could be made for those below the age for military service to receive some form of physical training, not merely Swedish exercises, but really attractive physical training which would raise the general level of fitness in this country.
– Do not the young people get such training in the schools?
– They certainly do not get it after leaving school. In 1928-1929, it was found that 32 out of every 100 members of the Citizen Forces were below the physical standard necessary to qualify them to take part in the military manoeuvres which the training system then involved. I advocate the adoption of a combined system of military and physical training, not merely because of the security which this would give, but also because it would involve’ recognition by the younger citizens that they owe some duty and service to the State in return for. the many benefits they derive from it. It would tend to produce that discipline of mind and the development of character which the successf ul practice of modern democracy demands. I commend the Government upon its efforts to extend its defence programme in order to secure adequate protection for this country, and I congratulate the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) upon the efficient and energetic manner in which he is handling the administration of the defence programme.
– I have been impressed during this debate by the number of military experts who support the Government, and by the smallness of the number of speakers who have confined their remarks strictly to the question before the House, namely, the authorization of a loan of £10,300,000 for defence purposes. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), like a number of others, has accused the Labour party of advocating a policy of isolation with regard to defence. That phrase has been coined by Government supporters for political purposes only, but the time is not far distant when the people generally will realize that that expression is employed merely for the purpose of obtaining support for the Government at the expense of the Labour party. The Opposition realizes that the economic resources of Australia must be developed, and that, to a large extent, we must depend upon our own man-power and resources for our defence. The honorable member for Fawkner suggested that the Labour party had ignored the realities of the economic situation, but I cannot subscribe to that view. My party takes second place to none in accepting the situation as we find it. This country must be developed economically, and, in the event of hostilities, our safety would be endangered because we are 13,000 miles away from our principal overseas market. We have ‘been given more than a broad hint by the Prime Minister of Great Britain that we must make a strong effort to put our own house in order. I commend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for his remark that the best contribution which Australia could make to the defence of the Empire would be to provide for its own defence and to develop its economic resources. The world position has greatly changed of recent years, and the policing of our trade routes may bc much more difficult in the future than it was during the 1914-1918 period. In the event of hostilities overseas, Australia’s job would be to provide for its own defence. I am sure there would ‘be grave danger of our being cut off from our overseas markets.
I agree to some ‘extent with what has been said by the honorable member for Fawkner regarding the necessity for physical training. We should give increased attention to the physical training of our young men, but whether this work should be done in military camps or elsewhere is a matter for serious consideration by those whose duty it is to deal with the problem. There was no difficulty in obtaining volunteers at the time of the last war, and our citizens are just as loyal to-day as they were in 1914. I have no doubt that volunteers would be forthcoming if their services were -required for the defence of Australia, and, therefore, the need for compulsory military training does not arise. I have discussed this matter with persons having expert knowledge, and they have expressed the view that it is unnecessary to train large bodies of men at the present time. All that is required is to train officers, and to provide them with skeleton forces which could be augmented in time of emergency.
Australia should not -borrow money for defence purposes. The present generation should accept its immediate financial responsibility. The Government is prepared to place the burden of defence on posterity, but I oppose that plan. No money should be raised for expenditure on unproductive works. “We know perfectly well that, after .a few years, defence equipment becomes obsolete. The money required for defence purposes should be raised by taxation. To show that the Labour party has always realized the necessity for Australia to prepare for its own defence, I remind the House and the country that the Labour party, during the regime of the Fisher Government, established the first Australian navy, a well-trained army and a national smallarms factory.
– It also « introduced universal military training.
– Subsequently, that system of training was suspended, and I hope that it will never be adopted again in this country. The Labour party also established a national woollen mill, a national clothing factory, national munition works, a national note issue and the Commonwealth Bank. Most of the industrial undertakings inaugurated by the Labour party have .been handed over by its opponents to private enterprise. The Government speaks of harnessing the economic resources of the country, but I venture to suggest that had those institutions which were established by Labour governments, and financed either out of revenue or by means of the note issue department of the Commonwealth Bank, been retained, the position would be rauch better to-day than it is. What was done then could be done again, were not the Government so committed to assisting private institutions at the expense of the community. We on this side are not prepared to support the Government’s proposal to borrow £10,000,000 this year and further sums in. subsequent years for defence purposes.
I draw attention to what is being done in ‘Great Britain in this connexion. Honorable members will admit that the incomes of persons in Australia are not so heavily taxed as they are in Great Britain. Only last week a newspaper report from London informed us that Sir John Simon had stated that the raising of the standard rate of income tax from 5s. to 5s. 6d. in the £1 brought that tax to within 6d. of the war-time maximum. He pointed out, further, that the unexpected additional tax of 2d. per lb. on tea would affect every householder, and that increased taxation, both direct and indirect, would be levied. I do not wish to be regarded as advocating greatly increased taxation generally - I am of the opinion that taxation should be kept as low as possible - but if this huge expenditure for the defence of Australia must be incurred, the burden should be borne by the present generation rather than by posterity. As taxation in Australia represents about £16 per head .of the population, compared with nearly £20 in the United Kingdom, I submit that the intention of the Government to borrow this money is wrong in principle and, therefore, should not be agreed to by the House. The proposal of the British Government to collect an extra £72,000,000 during this fiscal year represents an increased burden of about 30s. per head of the population. The Commonwealth Government, however, does not propose to increase taxation. On the contrary, during its term of office it has reduced its demands on persons with large incomes. The income tax has been reduced considerably. In all, it has remitted taxes amounting to about £18,000,000.
-The honorable member is not in order in dealing with the Government’s taxation remissions in the past.
– I have referred to them only by way of illustration, in order to show that the additional money required should be obtained from taxes. The Government is following a wrong policy, for it is possible to achieve the result desired without recourse to borrowing.
Although I do not pose as an expert on defence matters, it is difficult to understand why most of the proposed expenditure on defence will be expended in Victoria and New South Wales. Very little of it will be expended in Tasmania, which is not, as one honorable member, perhaps inadvertently, said last week, a foreign country, but is one of the States of the Commonwealth of Australia, and has an equal right with the other States to be considered.
– Tasmania has not been overlooked.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance. The meagre information which has been supplied to the House has not enabled me to ascertain what the Government proposes to do in regard to Tasmania. In reply to a question which I asked last week regarding a naval base on the River Tamar, in North Tasmania, the Minister said that it would be used for flying boats, if necessary. I urge that greater consideration be given to the claims of Tasmania.
– Mr. Ogilvie said that he would see to that.
– Although Mr. Ogilvie is a good Premier-
– He made a fine statement recently in regard to compulsory military training.
– Mr. Ogilvie made no declaration on that subject. His remarks have been distorted by a section of the press. I know the purport of the resolution which was carried at the conference at which Mr. Ogilvie spoke, because I also attended it. I am aware of the exact terms of the resolution and the purpose for which it was carried.
– “What were its exact terms?
– The resolution has been published in various newspapers - in some instances under a distorted headingand if honorable members wish to see its terms they may look it up for themselves in the newspaper files.
It may be thought that, because Tasmania is at the southern extremity of the Commonwealth, it is not of great importance from a defence point of view, but I point out that its wonderful harbours, with deep sheltered waters, would make admirable bases from which an enemy could attack the mainland. An article dealing with the importance of Tasmania to the defence of Australia, which I read recently, stated that it was estimated that in the northern portion oi’ that State there were four machine gun units and one machine gun. Although I do not think that it is necessary to provide large forces in Tasmania, its claims should not be ignored when .he Government is providing for the defence of Australia. I hope that the Government will also consider co-operating with the citizen air force in Tasmania, which is doing good work. I join with my colleagues on this side of the chamber ;n opposing the borrowing of money to provide for the defence of Australia and, therefore, I shall vote against the bill. .
– I listened attentively to the speeches in connexion with the defence proposals of the Government, but I regret that with some honorable members party considerations have weighed unduly, with the result that, instead of being helpful, their contributions to the debate have been detrimental. In the first place, before I get on with matters associated with the bill, I propose to reply to one or two points raised by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). The honorable member directed attention to the fact that Tasmania has waters ready to provide an ideal naval base and that, therefore, that State should receive a larger share of the proposed defence expenditure. For his information, I might mention that provision is made to spend over £27,000 upon coast defences in Tasmania and, with other sums for minor works, the total defence expenditure in that State will be between £32,000 and £33,000.
– Does that expenditure include provision for new fortifications on the River Derwent?
– I have already said that £27,000 is to be provided for coast defences in Tasmania. I wish to emphasize that it is desirable that honorable members generally should try to deal with the defence question on a Commonwealth basis; it is absolutely hopeless to attempt to deal with a matter such as this State by State. We are compelled to deal with the defence question as it affects the whole Commonwealth, in conjunction with plans designed by other portions of the Empire^ so that whatever defence plan we adopt may cog in with the whole defence organization of the Empire in such a manner as to ensure that we have the maximum combined strength in the event of an emergency arising. Yet we find honorable members confining their attention to purely local works affecting their own constituencies, or setting one State against another. We cannot confine naval expenditure to any one State. The fact that the Commonwealth Government is spending a large sura of money in strengthening the navy equally affects every State within the Commonwealth ; the fact that we are spending a large sum on . the air force equally protects each and every part of the Commonwealth, for the simple reason. that the air force is the most mobile force we have - it can be transferred from place to place at short notice. Naturally, it has to be developed where the greater number of the population resides. That is where the bulk of the recruits are trained. It is most economic to have air force base organizations established at places like Laverton, Victoria, and Richmond, New South “Wales, where the training of recruits is carried out. I wish to emphasize that, by establishing a strong arm of the defence organization at Darwin, we can definitely protect each ‘and every part of the Commonwealth much more effectively than would be the case if we were to transfer the defence organization to, say, Tasmania or elsewhere. Our principal responsibility is to develop and strengthen the defence organization in the northern portions of Australia. I offer no apology for making that statement, for two reasons : first, because the northern portion of Australia has not been developed to the same extent as has the southern portion; secondly, because the northern portion of the continent is sparsely populated and is an area which must be strengthened from both a military and naval viewpoint. The manufacture of munitions is carried on in areas where they can be most economically handled, and advantage must be taken of the fact that we have already established huge munition works in New South Wales and Victoria. Another consideration is that, in the event of an emergency, we must take full advantage of the ability of private enterprise already established in a large way in some centres to produce large quantities of articles similar to those produced in our own munition factories.
– At its own price.
– The honorable member for Batman should be the last one to interject during the discussion of a question of this description.
– Private enterprise oan mark its own ticket.
– We have made plans for the organization of private enterprise so that, in the event of an emergency, those industrial organizations which are capable of augmenting the supply of munitions now produced by the government factories can be brought in almost automatically to meet the whole of the defence organization of this country. That does not mean merely the provision of arms and munitions ; it also means the provision of all the essential requirements of the people of this country in time of emergency, particularly for the defence organization, and goes far beyond the requirements merely of the army, navy or air force.
– Has the Government attempted to get the State to co-operate with the Commonwealth in this respect ?
– Yes, the States have been given opportunities to co-operate with the Commonwealth in many directions. They are prepared to throw their weight behind the whole defence organization, and, to that end, have passed legislation to assist the Commonwealth in co-ordinating civil aviation throughout the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, all the States except New South Wales have passed the necessary legislation to do so, and the New South Wales Government has promised to co-operate, by passing similar legislation. Western Australia and South Australia- are as yet the only States that have proclaimed legislation dealing with this matter, but, as I have said, we have an assurance from the New South Wales Government that it will pass the necessary legislation. As soon as that is done, all of the States will be in full co-operation with the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the control of civil aviation. That is definitely a very valuable asset to the Defence Department in the event of an emergency. I may say, in reply to tlie interjection of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), that the organization being perfected to-day will not permit private concerns to charge profiteering prices for their output, or, as the honorable gentleman has said, “ to write their own ticket,” for the simple reason that the Commonwealth Government has laid it down that there shall be no profiteering, and that if necessary, the Commonwealth Government will take control of the production of private concerns manufacturing defence requirements. The Commonwealth has already received a definite assurance from all the manufacturers that they are prepared to afford the Government the fullest cooperation, and that, as in the past, they will continue to give it the best advice possible. They have offered us the whole of the resources of their organizations necessary to carry out Government activities. It is all very well for members of the Opposition, and some members on this side of the House, to sneer at matters of this description; it is’ all very well to harp about profiteering; we say that our obligation is to see that the whole of the resources of this country are organized in such a way that, in the event of an emergency, they could be coordinated and brought into operation to give this country a reasonable chance of defending itself.
A good deal of the criticism levelled at me personally is most trivial, and most uncalled for. Even the Leader of the Opposition stoops to the depths of ridiculous criticism because the party opposite has no defence policy worth while. Only in this morning’s newspapers the Leader of the Opposition is stated to have criticized me as Minister for Defence of having hurried off to Sydney for the week-end at a time when the defence question is under review, and of neglecting to go to defence head-quarters in Melbourne. I am forced to tell the people of Australia what a malicious state of affairs exists when the Leader of the Opposition stoops to statements of that kind.
– “What about the honorable member for Henty?
– I shall deal with him later; first of all, however, let me sa.y that this is how I put in the week-end: Friday, 29.4.3S - House rose 3 p.m. Remained with Secretary for Defence until 7 p.m. S p.m. to 9.30 p.m., opened and attended conference, Canberra. 11 p.m., caught express at Goulburn for Melbourne.
Saturday, 30.4.38 - 12 noon- Met Defence officers, Melbourne. Discussed South Australian defence matters a.nd prepared papers for Adelaide visit. 6.45 p.m., left Melbourne by train for Adelaide.
Sunday, 1.5.38 - 9 a.m., arrived Adelaide. Met Base Commandant, District Naval Officer and Assistant Director ot Works. Visited Keswick Barracks, inspected and approved extensive works proposals. 3.30 p.m., met South. Australian ‘ members and military officers, discussed defence matters affecting South Australia. 5 p.m., met Mayor of Glenelg and Mayor of Brighton, inspected two sites for proposed flying boat bases, also new site for aerodrome.
Monday, 2.5.38 - 9 a.m., attended Commonwealth Government offices, Adelaide. Received several, deputations and interviews relating to defence matters, including representations by the executive ot the Chamber of Manufactures, South Australia. During afternoon inspected Holden’s motor works. Later, accompanied by Premier of South Australia, the District Naval Officer and Chairman of the Harbour Board, inspected harbour works and proposed flying boat base at North Arm. Then proceeded with Base Commandant and inspected the Largs fortifications. 8 p.m., addressed large meeting in Adelaide on subject of defence.
Tuesday, 3.5.3S- S a.m., left Adelaide, by air and arrived Canberra 1.30 p.m. Attended Cabinet meeting prior to meeting of the House.
I have gone to the trouble of explaining to the House my movements during the week-end because they provide an effective answer to the insinuations contained in the statement attributed to the Leader of the Opposition, that, instead of attending to departmental business at headquarters in Melbourne, I went to my home in Sydney. This, I think, is a satisfactory reply to the allegations. As a matter of fact I have not seen my home in Sydney for a considerable time.
– The Minister is quite wrong.
– I can produce the press statement and prove that what I have said is in accordance with it.
– I realized that the Minister is doing so much work that I, myself, started the idea that he should have an Assistant Minister.
– But for a very different purpose. The Leader of the Opposition is like the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), who patted me on the back with one hand-
– And at the same time kicked the Minister in the pants.
– Tes; and it was suggested that the Defence Department was not being adequately handled, and that I had not been in my place in this House when certain honorable members were debating the defence provision. In reply to that I say that I have been in this House, or within very close reach of this chamber, all of the time, and key senior officers of my department, including the secretary, the assistant secretary, and the chief of the general staff have been in constant attendance in the chamber. In addition, I have had a special .shorthand writer taking notes of any points raised by honorable members during the debate. Every point raised, and every proposal made, has received the closest consideration. Despite this constant attention to detail, honorable members opposite, because they can find no vital question overlooked, have indulged in trivial, unfair and unjustified personal criticism of me. It is time, I think, that the people realized that this criticism is indulged in only for the purpose of side-tracking them, obviously the Opposition fears that otherwise the people may approve of the Government’s actions in the interests of defence.
– I think the honorable gentleman over-estimates our influence.
– I could not overestimate the influence of the honorable member. In carrying out a reorganization of the Defence Department, the Government has merely extended the plan agreed upon some years ago to’ give Australia a complete defence system and. to make it self-contained to the greatest degree possible. In doing this the Government has continued the policy laid down in 1932 of extending the scope of the Navy, the Army the Air Force, and munitions activities, and of co-ordinating them so that they may be of the greatest service to the Commonwealth in an emergency.
The Government’s programme does not comprise, as has been suggested, a series of “ rush “ proposals. During the current year the Government has expended more than £11,500,000 upon the defence of this country, and in the last five years the expenditure in this direction has amounted to about £36,000,000. Many things that are now possible, such as the manufacture of a first-class anti-aircraft gun in an Australian factory by Australian workmen, are not the result of what has been done during the -last few months, but are the outcome of the foresight of my predecessors in office and their advisers who, about five years ago, laid down the organization to make it possible for defence equipment to be produced in Australia. The Government does not take entire credit for the fact that to-day there is in existence a complete munitions organization such as we have never had before. This organization which has been developed with the advice of some of the most competent men in the British Empire, will be most valuable in an emergency. There is no justification for the statement that the Government is now submitting rush proposals and is endeavouring to put something over the people. It is not correct to say that the Government’s policy is suspect and that it is playing into the hands of profiteers. Statements of that nature have been made by members of the Opposition during the debate, and the chorus of approval which greeted them suggests that they are endorsed by the Labour party. These allegations are quite without foundation and have been made merely for party purposes.
In view of what has been said I feel justified in pointing out that in 1931-32 the total personnel of the Permanent Forces in the ‘ Commonwealth, numbered only 6,870. To-day the number has increased to 12,4S8.
– Similar expansion has occurred in every country in the world.
– That may be so. At the 30th of June next the total personnel of the Australian forces will reach almost 13,000, and the Government’s plan provides for a further increase to 18,620. In 193.1-1932, the Australian Navy had four ships in commission, whereas to-day there are ten, while the personnel has been increased from 3,120 to almost 4,500. That change has been effected over a period of five or six years. Yet the Opposition accuses the Government of going ahead with “ rush “ proposals. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said that, in view of altered world conditions, there was no justification for the Government to proceed with its defence proposals at the present juncture.
– The Opposition supported the Government’s £11,000,000 programme, which the honorable gentleman himself considered to be sufficient for this year. We now ask what disquieting developments have occurred during the last three months to justify this tremendous expenditure?
– The happenings of the last twelve months alone are sufficient justification for that expenditure. If the Government be justified in spending almost £12,000,000 during the current year, there is, I consider, every justification for providing for the expenditure next year of almost £15,000,000, which actually is only a small increase on the current year’s expenditure, and is consequent on the plans agreed upon last year. It is necessary that the further expenditure proposed should be authorized in order to take advantage of much of the work which has already been carried out. If the honorable member examined the figures, he would discover that a large proportion of the £11,500,000 spent this year has been absorbed in the erection of buildings, including barracks, in various parts of the Commonwealth, and as soon as they are completed they will require to be manned and equipped. It would be ridiculous to suggest that the current year’s programme is not related to the work proposed to be done- during the coming year.
– How is it that the Government did not forecast or anticipate this expenditure?
– I would expect the honorable member to understand why. It may be recalled that, when last year’s programme was outlined, the Imperial Conference had just concluded. The Australian delegation had not at that time returned, but later its reports were thoroughly sifted and developed into a plan of defence for Australia. The Commonwealth was then on the eve of a general election and, therefore, the Go vernment was not justified in committing the country to a defence programme covering more than one year. The programme which it has already announced was endorsed by the people. But the general elections were concluded-
– When the Government was safe !
Mi-. THORBY.- When the Government had received the people’s endorsement of the programme extending over one year, it set to work to develop its plans. It called together representatives of the various sections of the defence organization, obtained the best advice available, both in Australia and overseas, and developed a defence plan. That plan, which was evolved largely through the Defence Committee, was then submitted to the Defence Council, which, upon the advice of ministerial members, decided upon the length of the plan, having in mind the cost and the means by which funds could be raised to put it into operation. The recommendations of the Defence Council were then considered by the Government, which endorsed proposals covering a period of three years. The Government now submits certain proposals dealing with this year only, and which involve an expenditure of £10,000,000 in the terms of the bill now before the House.
– Will the full amount of £10,000,000 be absorbed in this year’s programme ?
– Not all.
– How much?
– The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has already explained the details of the proposed expenditure.
– No, that is not so.
– I am prepared to give further details. Expenditure in connexion with the Navy w.i.1] amount to £2,590,000.
– A portion of that will represent the final instalment on the Australia.
– A small amount may be absorbed in that direction. Expenditure upon the Military Forces will amount to £1,955,000, and upon the Air Force, to £3,715,000, whilst the provision of supplies will involve the expenditure of £1,740,000. I emphasize the fact that the bulk of this expenditure will relate to work of a non-recurring nature. Much of it will be work of a permanent character, and a large proportion of the money will be used for the provision of coastal defences. This expenditure will be distributed as widely as possible over the various States, keeping in mind, however, as .1. explained at the commencement of my speech, the defence requirements of Australia as a whole, rather than the requirements or wishes of any one State.
– The bulk of the expenditure will be in New South Wales and Victoria.
– That is not so. Naval expenditure, as I pointed out just now, cannot be credited to or debited against any particular State; it is for the protection of the whole of the. Commonwealth, and is in exactly the same position in that respect as expenditure associated with the provision of an artillery school in Sydney, where men will be trained for the protection of the country as a whole. These facilities can, therefore, be regarded as Australian assets. The same may be said of the Air Force depots at Laverton and Richmond for the training of pilots. Men are being trained there for use throughout, the Commonwealth. In that connexion, I would point to the fact that on the 10th March last a squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force was established at the Pearce Aerodrome in Western Australia. Every member of the personnel of that squadron was trained in either New South Wales or Victoria. A second squadron is to be located in Western Australia, and a large and up-to-date organization will be established there. That has been made possible by the training of men and the creation of the organization in other States. Similarly, trained members of the military forces will be made available for duty in other States through the establishment of a Command and Staff School at Sydney and the operations of the Duntroon Military College. These establishments will function for the benefit of all the States. Therefore, honorable members should not discuss these questions from the parochial viewpoint, but should have regard to the interests of Australia as a whole. In view, however, of what has been said, I have extracted various items of expenditure to stow what is being done in the different States.
– What has the Government done in Queensland?
– The sum of £88,000 is to be expended in Queensland in connexion with the provision of aerodromes and military requirements.
– That is less than 1 per cent, of the total.
– The total includes the cost of constructing two new cruisers and other naval craft; does the honorable member suggest that Queensland is not receiving a fair share of the expenditure upon the Navy? Does he suggest that the expenditure of a large sum upon defences at Darwin does not directly contribute to the defence of Queensland? It is ridiculous for honorable members to raise such questions or to discuss tlie defence of Australia upon a State basis. It is impossible to carry out a defence programme on such lines; but in order to assist honorable members, I have prepared certain figures which will indicate the amounts to be expended upon works in the respective States. As I have said over and over again, expenditure upon naval and’ military equipment and aircraft, cannot be allocated between the States, because these means of defence arc liable to be used in any part of Australia. The amount to be expended on works in each State is as follows: -
That amount will be expended in providing labour in tlie various States of the Commonwealth. The balance is to be used in connexion with munitions, as part payment for tlie purchase of two additional cruisers, for goods manufactured by the munitions branch, and the storage of large quantities of necessary supplies.
– Is that expenditure to be met from the £43,000,000 or the £10,000,000?
– I am not referring to the £43,000,000, because I am permitted at this juncture to deal only with the proposed expenditure for the current year. I am entitled to refer to items of expenditure included in the bill under discussion, although the debate has developed into a discussion on practically the whole of the ramifications of the Defence Department. The defence plan that has been developed is this: We are strengthening the navy by arranging for the purchase of two cruisers to be added to the Australian fleet, and the transfer to the British Government of the aircraft carrier Albatross. We are also strengthening the coastal defences at the main ports and the most populous centres on the coast, particularly at those places where it is necessary to protect key industries, because it is realized that such industries are the basis of munition manufacture. In addition, a special .form of coastal defence work is being carried out to protect our main ports and harbours, and thus provide the Australian Navy with a greater degree of freedom in the event of an emergency than would be the case if our naval vessels had to concentrate on specific points.
In the army, ^considerable increases of the personnel and equipment of the regular forces have been provided for. Munitions works are being extended in many directions.
– The Minister speaks of enlargements. Will he say to what extent these are being made?
– As explained in reply to certain specific questions, I am not at liberty to state publicly the details of the Commonwealth’s defence proposals. For those reasons, I am referring to them only in broad outline. I have, however, undertaken to explain in confidence to the Leader of the Opposition such matters as I do not feel justified in explaining publicly. Extensions to munition factories include £75,000 on a building at Lithgow designed for the manufacture of the Bren gun.
Certain sections of the . Maribyrnong Munition Works are to be duplicated in order to more than double the output of munitions and explosives, and to meet the cost of importing plant and equipment for the manufacture of a new type of anti-aircraft gun for our defence forces. We are more than doubling the first line strength of aircraft, apart from reserves, by providing 198 planes as against 96, and by providing the necessary equipment and reserves and organization for the training of pilots. The training of the necessary men to keep up with the whole expansion is a considerable strain upon each section of the Defence Department.
– Will the new factory at Maribyrnong employ more men, or will -it be merely a reserve factory ?
– I am now speaking of active government factories. We shall treat private under takings as reserve factories and expect them to rise to the occasion in an emergency. The government factories are being used as regular producing units of the Defence Department, and will be used to manufacture munitions requirements vital to defence such as explosives, all forms of munitions, small arms, artillery requirements and machine guns.
– In one section 40 men have been dismissed.
– The honorable member is referring to the rolling of copper and brass plates. As that section is needed for urgent requirements in the munitions branch, the rolling of copper and brass plate can, and will, be undertaken by private enterprise.
– The bulk of the output of copper and brass plates from that factory is already going to private enterprise. I state quite definitely that it is not the responsibility of the Government to maintain government industries to provide manufacturers with tin and brass plates to be made into canisters and containers. The machinery that has been used for that purpose is required for the manufacture of munitions, and- we shall utilize it for that purpose. The section at Maribyrnong referred to has been carrying - on a branch of industry which is not vital to the manufacture of munitions. One section of private enterprise may reasonably be expected to provide the rolled plates required by another section of industry.
– I ask honorable members not to introduce irrelevant matters.
– No, because they confuse the Minister.
– They do not confuse but give me an opportunity to explain the position. It is inaccurate to say that the Government is closing down a section of the Munition Works at Maribyrnong to comply with the wishes of private enterprise. In preparing our defence works programme we have endeavoured to co-operate so far as possible with State authorities. For instance the Government proposes to expend £78,000 at Newcastle, and probably a larger sum later, but we shall not be disbursing that money at the same time as the State is expending large sums on relief works. We are endeavouring to have some form of co-ordination with the States so that Australia will obtain the maximum advantage from this expenditure, which while building up a defence organization, will also stimulate industry wherever possible. The methods the Government is adopting will go a long way towards stimulating industry in parts of Australia far removed from where the manufactured articles are used, and will provide a considerable amount of employment in the depressed areas of the Commonwealth. At Newcastle extensive works will be carried out, involving the expenditure of £78,000, the bulk of which will be for wages. Even expenditure on material represents, in part, wages paid to men employed within a few miles of where the work is being carried out. The same can be said of Lithgow. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) and other honorable members will realize that the coal-mining centres which have suffered through unemployment, can be classed as depressed areas. The expenditure of £75,000 in the municipality of Lithgow will undoubtedly assist to a considerable extent to provide employment for a large number of men previously unemployed and at the same time place in circulation a fairly large amount of money in that area. But that is not the reason for carrying out these works. The expenditure at Lithgow will give us important additional works at the small arms factory, whilst the expenditure at Newcastle is deliberately designed to protect that large and important industrial city and the important manufacturing concerns in that locality that are so closely associated with the defence programme of the Commonwealth.
– What of Liverpool?
– Not a great amount is being expended at that centre. The plan provides for a fair amount of nonrecurring expenditure such as that connected with the establishment of officers’ schools, training organizations for the artillery and warrant officers, and the training of additional officers at Duntroon. When this plan is carried out our annual commitments will be raised from approximately £6,000,000 as at present to about £10,000,000 per annum. The Leader of the Opposition and those who say that we should go faster, should keep that figure in mind when discussing the whole defence programme. Those who expect the Commonwealth to go faster are asking it to carry a much larger annual commitment than is practicable.
– I do not think any one on this side of the chamber suggested that the Government should go faster.
– Some honorable members have said that we are not going fast enough and others that we are going too fast. The defence plan on which the Government is working is based on the advice received from various authorities, following the Imperial Conference. Those advisers include the members of the Naval, Military, Air, and Munitions Supply Boards, the Advisory panel on industrial organizations as well as outside experts, and the staff of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Moreover, the Government has increased the personnel of the Council for Defence by including the Prime
Minister (Mr. Lyons), the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes), the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), and myself. Associated with them are the Secretary for Defence, the chief members of the Naval, Military, Air Force and Munitions Boards, and Major-General Sir Brudenell White, Major-General Sir Thomas Blarney and General Sir Harry Chauvel. When dealing with munitions supplies, we invite the co-operation of those controlling the sections of industry mainly concerned, and those closely associated with the supply of raw materials for munitions. In addition committees have been appointed embracing those producing medical supplies, the industrial chemists, and representatives of chambers of manufacturers. We have invited representation of industry and organizations of employees who would be directly interested in any defence plan under which speeding up, not only of individuals, but of production, in an emergency, may be necessary. * Lcave to continue given. *
By inviting the representatives of the various branches of industry and industrial organizations to co-operate with us in this important matter, we are hoping to arrive at a complete understanding between all sections as to what the Government has in mind. We wish to disabuse the public mind of any suggestion that, in submitting its defence programme, the Government is attempting to create a war scare. We are doing our utmost to allay any such fears. Our purpose is to explain the risks, and in formulating our comprehensive defence programme, we have endeavoured to insure this country against danger in much the same manner as a man insures his house against destruction by fire or bis life against premature death. When a husband insures his life, his wife does not go into mourning, because all that the husband has done has been to provide against an emergency.
I hope that honorable members will discuss the bill in a non-party spirit. The people of Australia are demanding that the Government shall not shirk its responsibility, but shall keep in step with other parts of the British Empire in order that we may evolve the strongest possible defence organization in the interests of public security and as our contribution to world peace.
.- I listened with interest to the attack made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) upon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and I gained the impression that the “ Minister has, of late, become altogether too thin-skinned. Apparently, he resents criticism. Lately wo have heard repeated the advice tendered in the song, “Johnny Get Your Gun,” the intention of honorable members supporting the Government being to prepare Australians for participation in some war in the near future. When, however, we examine the international situation, we arc forced to conclude that there is no need for a hurried decision by this Parliament on the Government’s defence programme. Nowhere is there evidence of a state of emergency, and certainly no situation which cannot be met by reasoned diplomacy. About eighteen months ago, when Italy was at war with Abyssinia, m’any Government supporters in this House were in favour of applying full sanctions against Italy. Such a disastrous course would undoubtedly have meant war, and instead of Great Britain being able to negotiate a peaceful settlement of outstanding differences, as was done recently to our mutual advantage, this House would probably be considering troubles arising from war with Italy. On that occasion the Leader of the Opposition impressed on the Government that the full application of sanctions would lead to a declaration of war. Because he took this view, the honorable gentleman .and his followers in Opposition were declared to be against the British Empire. At that time the Government and it3 supporters were in n. mood to hit Mussolini on the head with a bottle. To-day they applaud the peaceful settlement of points in dispute in the Mediterranean between Great Britain and Italy. Subsequent events proved the correctness of the attitude of my Leader on that occasion. His criticism of the Government’s defence programme is equally just. There is no need whatever to stampede the people of this country into heavy defence expenditure. If Government supporters had had their way a few weeks ago there would have been a declaration of war against Germany in connexion with the absorption of Austria. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) asserted that Germany was a menace to the British Empire. He put up this “ Aunt Sally “ in order to justify his support of the Government’s hurried proposals to expend £10,000,000 on defence this year. This, despite the fact that Mr. Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, has commenced negotiations with Germany for an improvement of trade relations between the two nations, a matter in which we are vitally concerned. Nor does the position in Spain warrant heavy expenditure by Australia on an enlarged defence programme. The honorable member for Deakin also said that the position in Czechoslovakia was a menace to world peace. With that statement I do not agree. I admit, however, that some aspects of the position in the East warrant preparation for defence by. Australia to the extent that the resources of this country, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, may become readily available in an emergency. But recent happenings, even in China, hardly support the fears entertained by the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) that Japan may seek expansion southward towards Australia. I regret that the honorable gentleman should have displayed the white flag by suggesting that Australia would not be able to put up an effective defence against aggression. Such a statement is an insult to Australian manhood. It was, I suggest, made for the purpose of stampeding the people of Australia to endorse the Government’s defence programme and so enable the war profiteers to make vast profits, as happened in the Great War, regardless of the suffering of thousands of Australian men and women. The Australian Labour party does not believe in the manhood of Australia being conscripted for service in any other part of the world. We believe that our men should be reserved for the home defence of this country, and not be sent overseas, as they were in the Great War, to be slaughtered or returned maimed and suffering for the rest of their lives. We resent the suggestion of the honorable member for Henty that the failure of the Allied forces at Gallipoli was due to the inability of Australian soldiers to reach and hold their objective. I invite the honorable gentleman to go to the Anzac club in’ any of our capital cities and tell that to the “Diggers” there. The Allies failed at Gallipoli because of the conditions under which the men were landed. Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in 1915, expressed high appreciation of the services rendered by the “Anzacs, and admitted that the Allied troops had been landed under shockingly bad conditions. War correspondents representing newspapers of the Allies - the honorable member for Henty himself was a war correspondent - also agreed that at Gallipoli the Australian soldiers so distinguished themselves for tenacity and heroism that on that penninsula Australia became a nation; the honorable member for Henty does not agree. The British professional troops who were landed at Suvla Bay were equally unsuccessful and sustained very heavy casualties.
– No professional soldiers were landed at Gallipoli.
– The Minister is wrong. According to the honorable member for Henty they were better soldiers than the. Australians; but as history records, they were not more successful. Therefore, it ill becomes the honorable member for Henty now to cast a reflection on the men who landed at Gallipoli. I believe in upholding the spirit of the Anzacs - the men who enlisted voluntarily for service overseas and who later voted against conscription. Although, like myself, many Government supporters, never heard a shot fired in the Great War, they are ready enough’ now to pose as military strategists and speak confidently about matters of which they can have no real knowledge. We on this side believe that our best line of defence is to ensure the availability in time of war; not so much of Australian man-power as Australian resources. The Prime Minister of Great Britain has declared that the Mother Country recognizes its responsibility for the protection of trade routes in order to ensure the uninterrupted flow of foodstuffs and other resources from dominion countries like Australia. Why do not Government supporters tell the people what is in Mr. Chamberlain’s mind? AVe on this side are not prepared to hand a blank cheque to profiteers and enable them to exploit the people of this country in connexion with defence expenditure.
Honorable members cannot justify the cruel policy of conscription, which has been adopted by some countries that are ruled by. dictators. The people of Australia will resist that policy, as the Anzacs rejected it whilst serving in the trenches during the Great War. The Labour party is prepared to support the defence of Australia against any invader which tries to interfere with the liberty of the people of this great democracy, lt is time Australians demanded a place in the sun. They have no desire to be hostile to any nation, but they wish to co-operate peacefully with other countries. I do not wish to see Australia in the throes of a. military dictatorship, inaugurated under the pretence that it is necessary as a defence measure. The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) and the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) have advocated compulsory military training, but I do not agree with them. I favour the establishment of a standing army for the specific purpose of defending the country, just as a police force is trained to preserve law and order. The cost of such an army should bc met by taxes imposed on the wealthy section of the community. That policy would go a long way towards removing the differences of opinion between the ‘Government and the Labour party regarding defence matters. The Government and its supporters have made political capital out of the defence issue. They imagine that members of the Labour party will say, “ Australia is not worth fighting for,” but the Labour party is in favour of the adoption of plans for the adequate defence of this country. We should not try to make the people believe that a state of national emergency exists to-day, and thus facilitate the introduction of a scheme of universal military training. If Australia is in danger, there will be no difficulty in obtaining volunteer forces for its defence, but I object to mere boys being handed over to the authorities to be trained as professional soldiers. I would rather join the Army myself than allow my young son *o be conscripted for military service.
The Government is apparently unable to inform the House clearly how the money proposed to be raised under this bill will be expended. The Minister for Defence has urged members not to be parochial in defence matters, but for years I have stressed the strategical importance of Hobart in connexion with the defence of Australia, and at last that fact is recognized. Hobart constitutes a base which would be suitable for an enemy, which might wish to attack this “country and should be fortified against such a possibility. The sum of £30,000, which is to be expended in Tasmania under the present proposals, was placed on the last Estimates. I understand that this expenditure relates to certain defence works, for which tenders are to be called at the end of May. Tasmania’s hydro-electric scheme enables it to produce electrical power more economically than in any other part of the Commonwealth. In the electrolytic zinc works, Tasmania has one of the most up-to-date plants in the southern hemisphere. Were these matters given due consideration when the distribution of the proposed defence works was arranged? Of course not. When the Minister for Defence was asked to supply aeroplanes for the purpose of training young men in Tasmania who desire to qualify as pilots in the Air Force, he refused to accede to the request. Yet he’ asks us to be big Australians and to accept his present policy. I remind the Minister that some of the finest soldiers in the world have come from Tasmania. That State should be allowed to take a more active part in the production of munitions and defence equipment.
A telegram has reached me_ informing me that the Chief Commissioner of Railways in Victoria, Mr, Clapp, has said that the Newport Workshops are admirably suited for the manufacture of aircraft. It seems to me that it would be wise, in providing for the defence requirements of this country, to place orders for aircraft with the State railway workshops. Tasmania has railway workshops that could be utilized to enable the Commonwealth authorities to undertake certain work which is now handed over to private enterprise. It has been stated by the Treasurer that the new defence programme will help to solve the unemployment problem in the various States; but, when I recently asked how much money was to be expended in Tasmania in the production of munitions, I was informed that not one penny was to be disbursed in that State. How ,can the unemployed receive any benefit from the defence policy of the Commonwealth Government, when concurrently the State’s loan expenditure on public works has been reduced? I hope that the Government will conscript the wealth of this country, and not allow profiteers to batten on the community. If mothers are to give up their sons, and wives their husbands, because of the conscription of the man-power of Australia, I have every right to demand that the steel works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and the. zinc works and jam factories in Hobart be placed under the control of the Government, and used for the benefit of the nation, so that the sacrifice may be equalized.
I object to the Government raising money overseas’ for defence purposes. The resources and credit of Australia should be utilized, instead of imposing a burden on posterity. The responsibility for the defence of this country should bc accepted by the taxpayers of to-day. We should develop our own resources, and avoid heavy interest payments overseas. During the Great War, the Commonwealth Bank raised £450,000,000, and, when Sir Denison Miller was asked how long he could have continued to finance Australia’s war efforts, he remarked, “ I could have continued indefinitely.” The resources which were utilized on that occasion through the Commonwealth Bank should be tapped now, in making the necessary provision for Australia’s defence. To-day, however, the Government is dominated by overseas profiteers. The members of the big armaments ring are the financiers, and they are trying to force the Government to stampede the people into a hurriedly prepared scheme of defence which will involve borrowing money abroad. If the Government were honest in advocating equal sacrifice by all sections of the community, it would increase the income tax on the higher incomes. Those men and women who are living in luxury and not producing anything - not even children - should be called upon to pay according to their purse. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) is a strong advocate of the defence of this country. He will admit that one of the greatest factors in the defence of Australia would be a much greater population; nor will he deny that every mau should discharge his duty in that connexion before asking other men and women to send their sons to fight. Surely a man who really loves his country desires to have a home in it and to share it with a partner and children. His first duty is to carry out the natural law. No man has a right to advocate the conscription of other people’s sons when he has none of his own to fight for him. A few days ago, the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) said that plain speaking is necessary in these days. Because I agree with him, I have spoken frankly and plainly.
The honorable member for Henty also said that the responsibility of the portfolio of Defence was too great for the present Minister (Mr. Thorby). Having described the Minister as a wonderful man doing a big job, he proceeded to advocate the appointment of an assistant minister. Why didn’t he say that the “present Minister was not fitted for the job, and could not carry out what was required of him?
– Because he did not think so.
– The honorable member for Henty, who was kicked out of the Cabinet some time ago, wants to crawl back into it. He made it clear that members of the United Australia party believe that the present Minister for Defence is not suited to the position which he holds. If that is their belief, they should demand his removal. In the party meeting, they spoke against the Minister. They would be glad to see another Minister holding the portfolio, but the Country party demands it for one of its members, regardless of his fitness for the position. As I have said, the honorable member for Henty wants to get back into the Cabinet, and therefore he said that the present Minister for Defence was unable to do the job.
– He did not say anything of the kind.
-With one hand the honorable member for Henty stroked the Minister for Defence on the head, and with the other he gave him an uppercut. What is the reason for the “ hush-hush “ policy in connexion with the Government’s defence proposals?
– The honorable member complained just now that too much had been said about it.
– When a member of the Opposition rises in the House of Commons to criticize the defence policy of the Government, he is not told that he is anti-British and has no right to be in the Parliament of the country; but when a member of the Opposition rises in his place in the Parliament of the Commonwealth he is greeted with a tirade of abuse from supporters of the Government, and told that he is anti-Australian. That is not right. We on this side are not isolationists. We are prepared, as true democrats, to defend democracy, as exemplified in the British Commonwealth of Nations. We are, however, not prepared to involve Australia in a war in Central Europe.
– Does the honorable member support Mr. Ogilvie’s defence policy?
– I am not afraid of the honorable member’s interjection. I like the man who is prepared to stand up and say, “Do not wave the white flag; do not accept defeat; be true to the English, Scottish or Irish s.tock from which you sprang”. I shall not wave the white flag. The honorable member for Fawkner asks whether I agree with Mr. Ogilvie’s defence policy. All that was done at the Tasmanian Labour conference was the passing of a resolution to take the matter to the Federal Conference. It stopped there.
– Does the honorable member agree with what was done?
– I have already stated that I do not believe in compulsory military training, and that I will not vote for it. I stand to that statement. A member of the Labour party may speak as he likes on matters of defence, but his remarks must not be regarded as the official pronouncement of the Federal Labour party on the subject. The policy of the party is that which has been proclaimed by its leader. The Labour party in this House has only one leader, not four or five as has the other side.
I do not think that it is in the best interests of Australia to advocate the conscription of its manhood at this juncture. Eather should we concentrate our efforts on supplying arms and munitions and food supplies to any part of the Empire which may need them. It is mere sophistry to say that boys should go into camp for their physical development. According to Dr. Dalton, who came to Australia from England to report to the British Government on the subject, the physique of Australian males is better than it was in 1913. As I travel in different parts of Australia, I cannot but notice the fine physique of the youths and men whom I meet. They get all the physical training that they require in the playing of football, cricket, tennis and other games. In European countries, no members of the working class play games,
– The honorable member is hopelessly wrong.
– An eminent German tennis player who was in Australia recently said that the only people in Germany who are allowed to play tennis are university students. On his return to Germany he was arrested for indulging in propaganda against his own nation. Australians are a sport-loving people, and in the playing of games they obtain both enjoyment and physical fitness. The manhood of this nation compares more than favourably with that of any other country. It is an insult to the intelligence of the people to attempt to subject them to Prussian militarism under the guise of a defence policy. Instead of following the example of Germany and Italy, let us, as honorable members opposite so often advocate, “ tune in to Britain,” and have the courage to tax the wealthy people of this country to pay for a professional army. Honorable members opposite are trying to hoodwink the people by declaring that the Labour party has no defence policy and will do nothing to defend democracy. With a standing army, an air force, and a navy-
– Is a standing army a part of the Labour party’s defence policy?
– A standing army could be covered by the term “ adequate defence “. A standing army is preferable t.o conscription.
– How large a standing army should Australia have?
– That is a matter for the military experts.
– Is not the honorable member afraid that a standing army might be used against strikers?
– No Government supporter will have the audacity to say that Australia can provide a navy capable of holding its own against the navy of any other of the great powers. Australia, with its small population, could not build a navy strong enough for the purpose. The Labour party is willing that Australia should have a navy as big as it can afford. It could also have a standing army of well-trained men.
– The honorable member’s leader said that there is nothing so inferior as an inferior navy.
– The Labour party believes that the air defence forces of Australia should be strengthened. To-day the military advisers of the Government are urging an increase of the aerial defences of this country, yet when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) urged that policy during the elections, he was accused of running out on Great Britain. What a lie ! I wonder that it did not choke his accusers. Now the Government brings down a bill to borrow £10,000,000 to provide for precisely what the Leader of the Opposition suggested. During the committee stage of the bill I propose to move a motion designed to ensure that a greater proportion of the proposed expenditure shall be incurred in Tasmania. In that State we have all the resources, machinery, and plant required to produce munitions and to manufacture aeroplane parts. We have an abundance of the zinc and tin needed for the manufacture of aeroplanes.
– How much zinc goes into an aeroplane?
– A good deal. Zinc is .also used extensively in the manufacture of munitions. I appeal to the Government not to allow the profiteers of this country to have an open go in connexion with the manufacture of Australia’s defence needs. I suggest also that strict supervision should be exercised over the manufacture of all defence requirements, because during the last war it was found that consider.able numbers of shells and other munitions supplied by various countries to the Allies were duds.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.-. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney), by implication, at any Tate, give this bill his blessing, inasmuch as he said that it provides for the defence policy of the Leader of the Opposition. I hope that the honorable member will support his words with his vote at the appropriate time. During this debate it has been said that mistrust and misunderstanding exist among the nations of the world to-day, and that such a state of affairs is regrettable, lt is regrettable, but it is a fact; and we have to face realities. It is a reality that distrust and misunderstanding exist among the various nations; it is a reality that the map of Europe has recently changed markedly, notwithstanding all the treaties presumably set up to preserve the frontiers of Europe; it is a reality that countries and territories have been occupied and invaded notwithstanding the existence of a League of Nations founded on the principle of collective security; and therefore it is equally a reality that no nation can afford to neglect its defence. When we consider the problem of defence we must first clarify the object which we set out to achieve by our policy. In military parlance, an “ appreciation of the situation “ requires that the object shall always be kept in the forefront, so that we may formulate accordingly the plan by which the policy is to be achieved. As I see it, the abject of our defence policy is twofold; it is to preserve the territorial integrity of Australia, and to preserve our sea-borne trade, both coastal and overseas. I am afraid it i3 true to say that, the majority of small nations in the world to-day only exist on the sufferance of the larger nations. Australia is a small nation, but it has the tremendous advantage over other small nations that it is also a member of the British Empire, and it is in the British Empire that it has to place its real trust for external assistance, should such assistance ever .become necessary. But the necessary corollary to any demand or request for help from others is evidence of a desire to help oneself. Therefore, it is obligatory on Australia, as it is on the other portions of the British Empire, to build up its own defence, so that the collective strength of the Empire shall be sufficiently strong to deter any would-be aggressors. That Australia is prepared to build up its defence is evidenced by the speech delivered in this House last week by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). We should consider what is the best- way to achieve this object, and I suggest that there are two main alternatives: first the adoption of the navy as the first line of defence; and secondly, the adoption of the army and the air force” as the first line of defence. The advisers of the Government - and of course it possesses the best possible advisers - have recommended that the navy should be the first line of defence, but it is obvious that Australia cannot afford to build, equip and maintain a fleet sufficiently large for the defence of its territories and trade; consequently, it is necessary, if the navy is to be its first line of defence, that it should act in co-operation with the Royal Navy. That is to say, there must be a strong British fleet stationed in eastern waters and based on Singapore. Without the presence of such a fleet it seems to me, at any rate - and I think, as has already been said, that we are all tempted to become amateur strategists when we consider this problem - that reliance on naval defence must be unsound. The late Earl Jellicoe recommended, after a world tour, that a strong eastern fleet should be built up and based on Singapore to protect British interests in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. But after the signing of the Washington Treaty the need for that apparently disappeared and the proposal was abandoned. We have to consider that it is primarily the duty of the British Navy to ensure the entry into Great Britain in time of war of all essential foodstuffs. Could the Royal Navy do that and at the same time guarantee security in the Pacific? Would public opinion in Great Britain in time of war allow the sending of a large portion of the Royal Navy to the East? I think not. Therefore, if we are to rely on naval defence as recommended by the Government’s advisers, it is a prerequisite to such reliance that there shall be a strong fleet in Eastern waters based on Singapore. Our own navy would form a valuable auxiliary and link up with such a fleet, and it would be particularly valuable’ for convoying coastal ships. This country has seen only recently the effect of a fall of the prices of our exportable primary products, but the catastrophic effects of an entire stoppage of the export of primary products can scarcely be imagined. And yet, if we disregard this second but no less important part of our objective, the protection of our sea-borne trade, we are endangering this country and running the risk of placing it in. an even worse position than faced it when that great fall of the prices of primary products took place. But if defence by the navy did fail, what then would be the position? We would still have the army and the air force. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) pointed out that the air force has certain definite limitations, particularly the extraordinary high rate of casualties. The honorable gentleman quoted figures showing that during the last year of the Great War casualties amounted to about 50 per cent, a month. Again, we have to remember that in its modern form the air arm is, to a large extent, untried, and both the effects of an air attack and the effectiveness of modern anti-aircaft defences are still problematical. The Air Force has certain definite characteristics; these characteristics, which have enabled the aeroplane to play such an important part in the development of Australia in time of peace, will enable it to foe a very effective weapon in time of war. No defence problem of any country can afford to neglect this very valuable arm. Any invasion of this country must of necessity be sea-borne, and a convoy of enemy ships when approaching this country would be particularly liable to attack from the air, not only when approaching the coast but also during and immediately after the disembarkation of troops. I am glad to see that the Government proposes to push on and complete Part 2 of the Salmond air defence scheme, and to bring the first line of aircraft up to 198. In considering the . expansion of the Air Force, it is, of course, a truism to say that the rate of expansion must be in direct ratio to the provision of the necessary ground organization, hangars, landing grounds, and ‘so on. Consequently, however great the will, the speed at which we can increase is governed by that very important factor. The establishment of aircraft manufacture in Australia, which the Government has made possible, is a valuable contribution to the defence of this country. We have seen, and are seeing, how difficult it is to obtain supplies of aircraft in time of peace, and if we obtained them no faster in time of war, we would very soon find ourselves in trouble. If, despite our
Navy and our Air Force, an enemy did land in Australia, then, ultimately, he would have to be defeated by our land forces. Consequently, it behoves us to take stock to see exactly what we have. At the moment, we have, of course, seven divisions organized on a peace footing. In connexion with the militia forces, I should like to quote from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8 th April last. With some of the conclusions drawn I do not agree, ‘because I think the writer has somewhat overstated his case; but in principle his criticism is sound. The article reads -
Let us visualize the present militia army on mobilization. Its strength, numerically spread over the six States, of the Commonwealth, is said to be 35,000. Of this number, at least 60 per cent, would be physically unfit for war service.
With that I do not agree -
This reduces the force to approximately 14,000. Deduct from the number 10 per cent, to form a nucleus for training reinforcements, which further reduces the number to 12,(i00. This number would be still further reduced by the requirements of lines of communication, staff, and other services, by at least 10 per cent. In other words, when wo talk about our militia army for the defence’ of Australia being 35.000 strong, we really mean a striking force of a.bout 11,000, and then only a compact striking force when they have been gathered together from the four points of the compass throughout Australia.
But this is noi the whole story.. It took seven months to train and harden the Australian Imperial Forces which comprised n great number of militia soldiers. Even if we assume that the present militia army is better trained to-day than it was then, to the most optimistic, it would take at least one month’s solid hardening and finishing training, even partly to fit militia troops for service against the trained soldiers of an invader, and this means that one month after the invader actually landed, we would oppose him, with at the most about 11,000 partly trained troops. Further, after our militia troops had been committed to the defence, at least three months would elapse before reinforcements could be trained and equipped to support them, assuming, of course, that there were still some troops left to support.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– It is necessary that we should take stock of our land forces. The figure of 35,000 men in the militia is misleading when one realizes actually what number of men would be available in the time of need. Recently I had opportunity to read a book compiled from the papers of one responsible more than any other for the defence system of Australia, Sir Peter Scratchley, whose remarks, made nearly 60 years ago, are applicable to-day. I read the following from this book: -
In deciding on the strength and composition of the land forces required for an adequate scheme of defence, Sir Peter deemed it necessary that the colonies should he prepared in all available ways for a raid upon commerce along their coasts, and for an attempt to overpower the defences provided at the principal ports and elsewhere should such an opportunity present itself to the enemy. To oppose such attacks by land, lie considered two distinct bodies of men should be organized :
A force composed of paid and regularly trained soldiers.
A force consisting of volunteers.
And in connexion with -volunteer forces we have -
In considering the numbers required, it was assumed that every man in the ranks would be moderately trained. “ But moderate training for the volunteers,” said Sir Peter Scratchley, ‘ will only suffice if there is a body of highly trained men, immediately available on the outbreak of war, ever ready to man the defences, and thus affording time to perfect the training of th» auxiliary forces.”
Well, that brings me to what I have often suggested, and which, I am glad to note, was supported by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney), namely, that we should have in this country a small standing army. I realize that the establishment of a small standing army would involve the Government in considerable expense, but, if it were established, we should at least have something very effective and immediately available. I have suggested that at first it might be a mixed brigade. It ‘fi not suggested for one moment that a mixed brigade would provide an effective or complete land defence system for this country, but it would have many definite advantages. It would be mobile, highly trained and properly equipped, and would afford the very necessary breathing space., while it took the shock of an invasion, to enable the militia to be brought up to the necessary state of preparedness. Moreover, a small standing army would provide the militia with a standard .at which to aim. Under existing conditions the militia have no standard to set themselves to reach. If, as is apparently contemplated in the Government policy, raids on Australia are thought possible or probable, there is no doubt whatever that a small standing army is indispensible. Such an army would give the officers of the Australian Staff Corps an opportunity to exercise command and also to do training in regimental work. At the moment they get no exercise in command at all; they are purely staff officers. Prom 1914 to 1918, of course, they were used for the purposes of command, but, since then, none have had the opportunity to exercise command. Except for some of the more junior officers none of them gets any experience of regimental work. When an officer graduates from Duntroon, for a time he becomes attached as adjutant to a light horse regiment, artillery brigade, infantry battalion, or some similar formation, and then he has some training abroad; but the moment he has finished his apprenticeship as an adjutant he finishes his regimental training. Those who have any experience know that it is a good thing for staff officers to have the advantage of regimental training. Further than that, a permanent army would give militia officers an opportunity to handle reasonably large bodies of troops. Only those who are training at the moment - the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) can bear me out in this - realize how often militia officers and their men have to fight imaginary troops with imaginary weapons. That cannot lead to the efficiency which I think is necessary. I am glad to learn that the Government proposes’ to form a command and staff school in Sydney. Such a thing, I think, has long been needed. Its value would be further increased if it had the opportunity to work in conjunction with a small permanent army.
Turning for the moment to the militia forces, I do not think that the people realize to what extent the training is voluntary, and what a tremendous amount of time is given up by the young mcn, a great deal of it without ‘ pay or allowances. A more liberal attitude could perhaps be adopted by the Government towards the men who are efficient. Consideration should not be given to any but those who at the end of the training year are efficient. A great deal could also be done to make the training of the militia more congenial. When troops, at the end of a fairly heavy day in camp, are finished for the night, too often there is nothing for them to do. The camps are generally situated at some distance from the nearest town, and the men very often are not inclined to walk in or to get a lift on a lorry; andI think that if some form of amusement could be provided for them at the camps for their leisure hours it would have a beneficial result. The same thing applies to drill halls, and I think that to every drill hall a gymnasium should be attached.
Mr.Holloway. - Drill halls, generally, arc a dirty lot of sheds.
– In many respects, I am afraid that is true. Many drill halls need rebuilding.
– If they were, there would be more incentive to young men to join the militia.
– Yes. I should like to be able to do away with one drawback in the militia training system, and that is the Saturday afternoon training. Lots of young people are willing and keen to take part in militia training, but they are just as keen to play some form of organized game - football or cricket, dependent on the season - on Saturday afternoons, and they cannot do both. To suggest that some other day be fixed statutorily, I should say, would cause some opposition in industry, but I do suggest that that is something into which the Government should inquire.
At the moment, the turnover in the militia forces is alarming. When one realizes that, in a period of ten years, a trainee has 120 days, or about four months, of training, one realizes how difficult it is to create trained reserves. I concede that the training period has been increased byone day per annum.but that is not nearly enough. The period has been increased from twelve to thirteen days and I am certain that it is impossible in that period to turn out adequately trained militia men who, at the moment, in the absence of a standing army, will form the shock troops needed to meet any landing by an invader. Unless we increase the training period and decrease the rapidity of the turnover, I am afraid that the militiaforces will not advance very far. The young people are willing enough to do their share. I had a letter the other day from a young man in Western Australia. He and others are willing to pay their fares to Perth once a year in order to attend a course of instruction that will enable them to take their part when required with a short period of post mobilization training. I should like to see thenumber of the militia increased, but I realize that a substantial increase would he difficult to cope with because of the shortage of staff. The shortage of staff is a serious matter. We have a peace organization of seven divisions which, on mobilization, would become an army, two army corps, seven divisions and approximately 21 brigades. If one works out thenumber of staff officers required for such an organization as that, one realizes what a tremendous shortage of staff officers exists in Australia to-day. That brings me to the question as to whether the system is not unwieldy and as to whether a peace organization of seven divisions is a reasonably suitable form of organization of our militia. The Royal Military College, I am glad to see, is being extended. Notwithstanding the increased output from that college, however, the shortage will still be very great. The shortage of warrant officers, too, ‘is alarming. I should like to see established for warrant officers a training period of, say, twelve months at a school on the lines of the Albury school of some years ago.
Let us consider for a moment the conditions within the service. Are the conditions as they exist to-day sufficiently attractive to command the best type of men? The rates of pay in the Australian Army compare unfavorably with the rates of pay in the British Army. I point out also that whereas in the payment of salaries in the Australian Army there is no differentiation between married and single men, in the British Army compares the rates of pay in the there is a special rate of pay for British Army and in the Australian married officers. The following table Staff Corps -
Altogether the comparison is not very favorable to Australia. Another point is that there is a large number of officers in the staff corps carrying out work higher than is, commensurate with their rank and pay. We have the spectacle of captains acting as brigade-majors and as senior staff officers of a division without any addition of pay. That is not, attractive. If a man is capable of holding down a joh he is entitled, not only to the rank of that job, but, certainly, to the pay as well. After un officer has served his time in the forces and is superannuated, if he is so unfortunate as to retire as a major at 55 years of age, he becomes entitled to superannuation, to which he has contributed, at the rate of £178 a year. The British rates of pay that I have cited are inclusive of pension ; there is no contributory system in Great Britain as there is in Australia. Then, if a man is. fortunate enough to be a colonel he may serve until he is sixty and receive £364 a year as superannuation. 1 irrespective of rank, the maximum superannuation that a man can expect is, I believe, little more than £400 a year.
I have always understood that brevet rank is regarded somewhat as an honour, but it is difficult to believe that the granting of it has any effect on the future promotion of an officer. It certainly allows a major who receives the brevet rank of lieutenantcolonel to serve until he is 60 years of age instead of 55, but a captain who becomes a brevet major and has the privilege of being called a major has to go to the expense of altering his uniform and, u-t the same time, continues to draw a captain’s pay with a captain’s allowances when travelling. The Australian Staff Corps is a highly trained loyal and efficient body of men. I speak with a good deal of personal experience. I do not think the treatment of these officers is in keeping with the very serious responsibilities placed upon their shoulders. They are, after all, responsible for the implementing of the Government’s policy, and to them would bc entrusted the lives of Australians should the necessity to defend this country ever arise. A few years ago, when the Financial Emergency Act was brought into operation, the Army, in common with other branches of the fighting services, suffered a salary cut of 22-J per cent. In addition, the Public Service Act was made applicable to the salaries of army officers, who were also forced to take two weeks’ leave without pay in every quarter, with the result that many who possessed no means beyond their salaries were obliged to allow insurance premiums and other provisions of that nature to lapse. Such things should not be permitted to happen.
I desire now to touch upon the question of the appointment of an InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces. I find it hard to believe that it would be possible to obtain for any long period an officer possessing the experience, qualifications and rank necessary to carry out the job. A thorough re-organization of the British Army has recently commenced, , and I cannot imagine the British Government being very willing to release a man of the type we want - and we want the best - for a long period. If, therefore, it is not possible to secure the man we desire for a long -period, let us see that we get the best possible man available for a short period.
– If the Government does not get such a man, it might even have to put up with an Australian!
– We have not been accustomed to send senior officers to England to keep abreast of modern conditions. Each year a certain number of junior officers is sent to the staff colleges at Camberley and Quetta, and now and again a few slightly senior officers visit England upon exchange duty, but I cannot recall any really senior officer being sent abroad to keep in touch with modern developments. If that had been done, the necessity for obtaining an InspectorGeneral from overseas might not have arisen.
Dealing now with the question of industrial mobilization, from the experiences of the ‘last war it was learned that proper preparations in the industrial sphere are in every degree just as important as are military operations. I think it is almost axiomatic to say that in proportion to the degree of readiness in peace so will be the power of efficient defence in time of war. Without doubt the determining factors in time of mobilization are to be found in the obtaining of supplies and not in the enlistment of men. I, therefore, welcome the Government’s proposal to set up advisory panels in order that every phase of industrial activity may be covered and every phase of the defence problem fully dealt with.
There is one point, however, which I have previously brought before the Government, and which I stress again. Despite difficulties that may exist, I still think it right and proper that the Leader of the Opposition should be a permanent member of the Council of Defence. It ha3 been said that, owing to certain difficulties, such an appointment might be embarrassing, but the problem is far too important to permit a question of embarrassment to prevent such an appointment. The secret of a successful defence policy is that it shall have continuity, and 1 can think of no better way to ensure that continuity than by including the Leader of the Opposition, whoever he may be, in the Council of Defence.
– The honorable member is anticipating a Labour government !
– I do not say that ; but if every turn of the political wheel meant a change of government with a different defence policy, this country would soon be in a sorry plight. I hope the Government will investigate the position further and see if it is not possible to overcome the difficulties that exist in making this appointment.
I desire to congratulate the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) upon the manner in which he has tackled his duties. He has in front of him a full-sized job, and the energy, determination and enthusiasm with which he is facing it must commend itself to honorable members on both sides of the House. It was, I think, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) who said that members of the United Australia party did not believe he was the man for the job. That is wrong. He is doing an extraordinarily good and efficient job.
– A member of the United Australia said it.
– No; it was never suggested.
– It was said that the Minister was overworked, and should have an assistant.
– The fact remains that the Minister is doing a very good job and deserves, not criticism, but support from all honorable members of the House.
I have submitted certain suggestions which I trust the Minister will realize are meant to be constructive. I have no wish to pull down. I know he receives criticism of a destructive nature and I hope that the suggestions I have made will be taken into consideration and that some, perhaps, will be adopted. I commend the bill to the House.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable members on this side of the House who have already submitted their views upon the bill, and propose, in the first place, to deal with the method of raising the proposed loan of £10,300,000. This money can be raised in one or all of three ways: first, from revenue; secondly, by means of a loan; and, thirdly, by utilization of the Commonwealth Bank. Dealing with the first proposal, it is obvious to members on this side of the chamber that the Government, representing as it does what are known as vested interests, is definitely opposed to taking from those interests something which rightly belongs to those whom they exploit - the masses of the people.
As far as raising the money through the Commonwealth Bank is concerned, opposition to that course has been expressed by representatives of the Government from innumerable public platforms. The Government is opposed to the utilization in the best interests of the community of this publicly owned bank because it would involve interference with the profits of private banks, financial institutions and other bodies, and would interfere with the opportunities of these people for finding a safe investment for their funds.
During the election campaign the Labour party were classed as isolationists and it was said that Australia should tune in with Britain. The term “ isolationist “ has also been applied to the Labour party in this House, but when it becomes a question of following Great Britain we find that the Government is not prepared to do what Great Britain is doing, particularly in the direction of financing a tremendous defence pro gramme. I desire to quote from a statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir John Simon, as reported in the Herald on the 27th April this year. The report states -
Sir John said, in reference to meeting the defence costs, that he would not bc doing his duty if lie followed the easier course by borrowing all.
We must take some proportion of the increased expenditure on our shoulders by increasing taxation now.
By so doing, we shall reduce our difficulties hereafter, and we shall show the world that the country does not wail when it faces the burden of expenditure.
If the Commonwealth Government practised what it preached, it would follow the example set by the British Government and meet its defence commitments, not completely from loan funds, but by placing the burden upon the shoulders of those who are best able to carry it. The financing of the defence programme by means of the proposed loan must have the effect of curtailing money that could well be utilized by industry and by State governments, which have had foisted upon them by the Commonwealth Government the responsibility for grappling with the greatest of all our present day problems - unemployment. The various State governments have been largely utilizing loan funds for the purpose of bringing about an economic recovery, for which the Commonwealth Government is seeking to take the credit.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) stated that the expenditure of the £10,300,000 would be spread over all the States. That sounded very well, but it would appear that of the total expenditure of £43,000,000 for defence purposes only £88,000 will be spent in Queensland.
– Tasmania will get nothing.
– I think the honorable member is quite capable of dealing with that. If the Commonwealth Government goes on the loan market to meet its commitments for defence purposes the inevitable result will be to reduce the amount that the State governments require to carry out their present programmes for the provision of work for the unemployed. When the State Premiers, at the recent meeting of the Loan
Council, sought further loan accommodation to enable them to carry on public works programmes and to retain in employment thousands of men for whom they had provided work in the years subsequent to the depression, they were informed that they would have to cut down their loan requirements because the Commonwealth Government required the money for defence purposes. If the Loan Council persists in depriving State governments of money to enable them to carry out their works programmes, Australia will soon be confronted with conditions similar to those which prevailed a few years ago, and development will be so retarded that large numbers of men will again be thrown out of employment, causing poverty, misery and in many oases starvation amongst our people. The Government and its supporters have said that they are anxious to improve the standard of living of the workers, but according to the policy which they support they are anxious only to protect the privileges and profit of their wealthy supporters. A perusal of statistics discloses that during the last five years taxes to the amount of £20,000,000 have been remitted to the wealthy section of the community, thus depleting the revenue of the Commonwealth to that extent.
– -The honorable member is not in order in discussing the remission of taxes to which he refers.
– I am endeavouring to deal with the measure from the viewpoint of the workers, and to show the position in which they will be placed if any unnecessarily large amount is borrowed for defence purposes. Had that £20,000,000 of taxes not been remitted, that much revenue could have been utilized to finance a considerable portion of the Government’s defence programme, which over a period of three years will absorb £43.000,000. The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) referred to the enormous profits made by General Motors-Holden’s Limited, and suggested that some action should be taken to curtail exploitation by that company, and, in my opinion, that action should bc extended to similar companies such as those controlled by the Broken
Hill Proprietary Limited. These industrial organizations are making excessive profits with the assistance and concurrence of this Government under legislation passed by this Parliament.
– The honorable member is not entitled to reflect on acts of this Parliament.
– If these companies are able to make huge profits by exploiting the community they should be compelled to make a substantial. contribution towards the defence of Australia, as the expenditure to be incurred will assist to protect their profit-making industries. During the Great War we heard a good deal about loyalty and patriotism, but those who cried so loudly in those days concerning the responsibility of Australians in matters of defence are silent to-day. In the New South Wales Worker, of the 27th April, the following paragraph appeared : -
During tlie Great War, M. W. Hughes declared “that the only kind of patriotism our big business gentry recognized was that which put thousands of pounds of profits into their pockets. There is no reason for believing that the manufacturers- itching for armaments contracts will have any lofty ideals about patriotism unless it returns profits on a substantial scale.
Manufacturers who amassed huge fortunes during the war should be compelled to provide a considerable portion of the money required to meet our defence requirements, because many of them are enjoying prosperity only as the result of the excessive exploitation of the general community. Should the Government get the necessary authority to raise a loan of £30,300,000 for defence purposes, posterity will be compelled to shoulder a large portion of the burden, because the cruisers, aeroplanes and other mechanical equipment the Government proposes to purchase will soon become obsolete and will have to be scrapped.
I listened with interest to the speeches of honorable members on this side of the chamber on the international situation, and I do not intend to deal with the subject at length at this juncture, I propose to refer briefly to the inadequate protection’ afforded to the men, women and children who are carrying on 811 r, wonderful pioneering work in the northern part of Australia. The defence policy of the Labour party provides for the adequate defence of the Commonwealth, and if such a policy were in operation, those persons would receive more protection than they are likely to receive under the present Government’s defence policy. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) said that the House had been supplied with the fullest information concerning the Government’s defence proposals, but the schedule to the bill gives only bare details of the manner in which this large sum of money is to be expended. Instead of being used to manufacture war equipment for the destruction of human life, it should be utilized to provide reproductive work for the unemployed who, unfortunately, are still in our midst. Those who have travelled know that in the outback portions of Australia there are important undertakings awaiting development. In northern Queensland the State government is endeavouring to proceed with works, some of which were commenced years ago, but sufficient funds cannot be made available for the purpose. Apart from the insignificant efforts which have been made at Darwin, nothing has been done to protect those who are endeavouring to carry out the valuable pioneering work of our forebears. 1 notice that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) proposes to visit the Northern Territory, and I trust that during his travels he also will inspect western Queensland. .Should he do so, he will find conditions totally different from those in other parts of Australia, and he will also see valuable assets which are not protected in any way. I am opposed to the proposal of the Government to permit private enterprise to engage in the manufacture of munitions, as such a policy may provide an opportunity for the armament ring operating overseas to commence in Australia. The British Government wanted to take over the complete control of the manufacture of armaments, but, unfortunately, it was not in a position to do so. .Listening to honorable members opposite, one would think that the Singapore base was constructed for the sole purpose of protecting Australia. According to a paragraph which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of the 5th December, 1934, f2«-
British trade to the value of more than £200,000,000 a year passes through the narrow straits at Singapore, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. That trade comes particularly from China, and we know that the Singapore base was constructed to protect in addition the British oil interests in Borneo and- the East Indies. The opinion has been expressed that Darwin should be fortified and used in conjunction with the Singapore base. But provision is made in this bill for the expenditure of only £20,000 at Darwin, which is supposed to be a subsidiary to Singapore. It is obvious that those making such a statement have not taken the trouble to ascertain the distance between Singapore and Darwin. If it is necessary to protect Darwin as a subsidiary base, it will also be necessary to fortify Koepang and Penang. Reference has been made to the blunder-and-muddle defence policy of the Government and particularly to certain works at Darwin. Oil tanks for defence purposes are constructed on the side of a hill overlooking the harbour at Dai-win, and are painted white, so that an enemy would have no difficulty in locating them. This is an example of the Government’s defence policy! It has been suggested in some quarters that in the event of war, enemy forces would land at Darwin, which has been described as our front door. Those of us who are familiar with northern Australia find ii difficult to believe that an invading force would do this, because troops landed there would have to travel considerably over 1,000 miles to the railhead at Mount Isa or Dajarra in Queensland.
– No honorable member on this side made that statement.
– The whole of the country between Darwin and the railhead in Queensland is very sparsely populated, and for nine months of the year is exceedingly dry, rendering the movement of troops almost impossible. It is therefore practically certain that enemy forces would attempt to land on the fertile north-eastern coast of Australia, where Japanese sampans were reported to have been seen on several occasions not so long ago, because food supplies and water would be available there. Although many thousands of pounds have been invested by governments and private individuals in the development of that part of Australia, there is no provision in this bill for fortifying that part of our coastline. Apparently the Government believes that enemy vessels would stand off Sydney harbour and engage in hostilities with our fortifications there. As northern Queensland is the only country in the tropics where white men do the labouring work in connexion with primary production, it would seem that in any sound scheme of defence its claims for consideration should not be overlooked. During the last five years this Government has spent £31,000,000 on defence. What have we to show for that expenditure ? Practically nothing. If one seeks information about details of the Government’s defence programme, one is told that secrecy is essential. This “ hush-hush “ policy has persisted ever since this Government took office, and there is some reason to believe that in the present state of our defences, if an emergency arose, the Government would be unable to grapple with it.
Reference has been made in this debate to the general belief that Japan has only a six months’ oil supply. When asked whether he could give information concerning Australia’s oil reserves, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) said the people could rest assured that this vital matter had received the attention of the Government. With that we have to be content. But it is not too much to say that if the Government had, taken steps to provide secret oil reserves^ or to install underground tanks, the whole world would have known about it in 24 hours. The bill contains provision for expansion of the various mechanized units of our defence forces, but no money is earmarked for oil supplies, apart from the scheme to render some assistance to a company operating at Newnes. We have heard of secret tanks and oil reserves. I am sure that if the Government had been taking steps in this direction the news would have been splashed all over the front pages of our newspapers before now. The position of a nation lacking an adequate supply of oil in time of war is hopeless. During the Italo-Abyssinian dispute we heard much of a proposal to enforce oil sanctions against Italy, but nothing was done. If that action had been taken it is likely that the war would have come to a sudden end.
– The Labour party would not support the imposition of sanctions.
– That was not the point at issue then. The decision not to impose oil sanctions was made by Great Britain, whose policy was followed by this Government. This Government has no foreign policy of its own.
According to the schedule to this bill, it is proposed to spend only £55,000 on reserves of stores, including ammunition, ordnance, torpedo stores and fuel oil. This meagre amount suggests the possibility of a bargain sale of oil somewhere, and that the Government is obtaining its supplies very cheaply. Nations in other parts of the world which have not oil supplies within their own territories are endeavouring, to make themselves independent of outside sources. Germany, well knowing that in the event of hostilities it would be in a very dangerous position if oil supplies were restricted, is taking steps to produce oil from vegetable products. This Government should do likewise. If Country party members supporting the Government were truly representative of rural interests, they would wholeheartedly support Labour’s proposals for the assistance of the power alcohol industry and thus restrain the activities of the oil combine. The establishment of this industry on a sound basis would not only make us independent of outside oil supplies, but also greatly assist in the development of important agricultural areas in Queensland and elsewhere. Power spirit can be produced from all kinds of primary products, which may be grown from Mossman in the north of Queensland right around to Perth in Western Australia, and employment would be given to thousands of Australian citizens.
-The honorable” member must confine his remarks to the bill.
– The Government intends to purchase, two cruisers from Great Britain. At the present time, we have three cruisers, two of which, the Australia and the Canberra, are to be refitted and will not be available for use until 1941.
– The bill does not say that.
– One of the vessels to be purchased in Great Britain is to be ready in September of this year, and the other in July, 1939. The Government claims that these vessels are required urgently. That was the cry in 1934, and on previous occasions, when similar proposals were made for the purchase of vessels overseas. The construction of these ships should be carried out in Australia, thus establishing a new industry which would be of vital importance to this country so far as naval defence is concerned.
– What would be the cruiser size of our fleet if we kept on ‘building cruisers?
– I am referring only to the purchase of these two cruisers overseas. In 1924, when Mr. Bruce was discussing his Government’s decision to add two cruisers to the Navy, he said that when he was in Great Britain he was pressed by the British Government to consent to the building of at least one cruiser there. The two cruisers now proposed to be purchased will cost approximately £2,000,000 each, but, over and above that, we must take into consideration exchange, which will amount to approximately £1,000,000, and the cost of bringing the vessels to Australia, which will be in the vicinity of £60,000. Thus, the total cost of these two new cruisers will be something like £5,060,000. They could, perhaps, be built much cheaper if the work were carried out in Australia.
– In 1924, the peak period of our prosperity, it was estimated that it would not cost much more to have a ship built in Australia than it would cost in England. The construction of these cruisers in Australia would probably mean the employment of 1,000 men for three years, plus the stimulus given to other businesses, leading to increased employment in many other directions. There would also be increased revenue from direct taxation, from customs and excise duties, and from transport services for the carriage of material and people.
There would be a saving of approximately £500,000 in exchange, and relief to an amount of approximately £250,000 in sustenance payments to persons at present on sustenance and engaged on relief work in the States. The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Stevens, stated at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held on the 12th August, 1937, that the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland were paying to persons receiving sustenance or engaged upon relief work, the sum of £12,750,000 per annum. War and repatriation services, pensions &c, have, cost Australia £510,000,000, and interest charges on loans have amounted to £290,000,000. The proposal to finance this defence expenditure out of loan means a further imposition on the people of Australia in the shape of increased interest payments. During the Great War, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Sir Denison Miller, raised money for war purposes at one-fifth of the price charged by the private bankers. A further debt of £10,000,000, plus interest, is now to be passed on to posterity, although the money could have been provided out of revenue as is being done in Great Britain.
– I have listened with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), who devoted much energy to erecting Aunt Sallys, and immediately knocking them down. . I propose at the outset to devote a few minutes to’ showing that his arguments are unsound. He suggested that, in regard to our defence proposals, we should have followed the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Great Britain, by providing part of the additional money required for defence purposes out of revenue, and some of it possibly by way of loan. That is exactly what the Government has done already, and will probably do again. I remind the House that during the current year £11,000,000 was provided for defence purposes, £6,000,000 being taken out of general revenue, £3,000,000 out of the past surpluses, and £2,000,000 out of loan. Great Britain, fortunately, had to meet its new defence expenditure just at the time when its budget was being framed, and it did the same as the Commonwealth did last year. To-day, we are making preliminary arrangements for next year’s budget. The raising of the funds required for next year’s loan expenditure must be planned now. The Premiers of the several States come to the Loan Council at this time of the year, so that they may know what loan funds will be available next vear. Of the proposed loan of £10,300,000’; only £4,000,000 is to be expended next year, and the rest of the money will be available for use as required. The Government is doing exactly as the British Chancellor of the Exchequer has done, and as the honorable member for Kennedy recommends should be done.
The honorable member suggests that this Government has no interest in the workers, but is merely desirous of helping the class whom, he alleges, we on this side represent. I speak for every member supporting the Government when 1 say that we stand for all sections of the community. Not one penny of the taxes which will be raised to defray the cost of the defence programme, or the interest on the money to be borrowed, will be paid directly by the workers of Australia, because all ‘incomes below £250 a year are exempt from federal income tax. and the basic wage does not reach that figure. No worker on the basic wage pays any federal income tax at all, yet the honorable member claims that the Government desires to burden ‘the workers with extra taxation. On the contrary, it is trying to help the workers back into industry by reducing taxes. It has already reduced them by over £20,000,000, because it believes in the sound political principle that nothing hampers trade and industry, or reduces the standard of living, more than does excessive taxation. That industrial expansion, has marked the present Government’s term of office is shown by the fact that 525,000 more workers are engaged in secondary industries than when it assumed office. »
I shall deal with one or two more of the Aunt Sallys erected by the honorable member for Kennedy. He said that Darwin had been spoken of as a likely place for an enemy attack on Australia. I challenge the honorable member to tell the House which honorable gentleman made that suggestion. As a matter of fact, nobody has done so. A good deal of the energy of the honorable member was used up in expounding the obvious futility of an enemy attempting to march upon the densely-populated areas of Australia through Darwin. Another point he raised, wa3 that Singapore was of no significance in connexion with tlie defence of Australia. But, so important is the Singapore Naval Base with regard to the general defence of this country. New Zealand and the Pacific Islands under British control, that the New Zealand Government provided £1,000,000 towards the cost of that base. Australia’s contribution towards Empire defence is represented in the defence works already erected at Darwin, and the additional improvements to be made there. Proposals are in hand for expenditure on naval, military and aerial defence works to thi extent of £600,000. The arguments advanced by the honorable member for Kennedy have no significance. It has been said that northern Queensland will receive no protection under this bill, yet all the assistance offered by the honorable member is his opposition to the measure !
It has been stated that the policy of the Government is designed to invite the armament ring to do in Australia the horrible things which are said to have been done in Great Britain and the United States of America. It is proposed by the Government to provide £1,000,000 for the organization of secondary industries, so that they may be speedily equipped for the manufacture of munitions and other defence requirements. The co-ordination of the metal and engineering industries plays an important part in equipment of a nation for the work of defence. The iron and steel industry has always been of the utmost importance in this regard, because it provides the material necessary for the tools of war. The great metal and engineering industries fashion and forge the weapons of defence. The Government is expending about £1,000,000 in assisting a number of private secondary industries to purchase additional machinery which can be easily adapted for defence purposes. It is laying a wellconsidered plan in which our great iron and steel industries can, at a moment’s notice, switch, over to the production of warlike materials, without delay or dislocation. The Government has provided for advisory panels in connexion with the re-organization of secondary industries. It has been pointed out by the Government that it is not proposed to make a complete unit in any section of the engineering industry that participates in the effort to be made to bring about national security, but that the parts manufactured will be assembled under the direction of the Defence Department.
Let me remind honorable members of the basic principles of this bill. It i& proposed to provide an extra £10,300,000 for urgent defence requirements in the immediate future, £4,000,000 to be raised at an early date, and the balance from time to time as is required. This is part cif the plan for financing an expenditure, during the next three years, of approximately £43,000,000, which is to be allocated as follows: -
I agree with honorable members on the ministerial side that, in view of the tragic international conditions obtaining to-day, it is surprising and disappointing that the Opposition has indicated that it proposes to vote against the bill.
– The honorable member is not prepared to dip into revenue. He wishes to place the burden of this expenditure on the grandchildren of the present generation 40 years hence.
– I stated at an earlier stage that this year the Government has already dipped into the funds contributed by the taxpayer. In my judgment that general principle must he considered in any future budget. The £4,000,000 to be raised at an early date is part of the loan money allocated to the Commonu cai th by the Loan Council.
– Why did not the r rea- surer circulate that information among members of the Opposition?
– The budget introduced into the House of Commons by the
British Chancellor of the Exchequer provides that money for defence shall be obtained largely from taxation and general revenue, and we shall have to do the same in the future.
– The British Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to raise only £93,000,000 by way of loan, compared with about £250,000,000 from revenue iri the next financial year.
– I should not be surprised if similar action were taken here, on a pro rata basis.
– That is not provided for iu this bill.
– This expenditure, which has been forced on Australia, is to be regretted, for it will mean that the development of our primary and secondary industries and the extension of social services will, to some extent, have to make way for national security. However, the expenditure of this money will not only provide for the defence of Australia; it also represents a general contribution towards Empire defence. No one can be enthusiastic about such expenditure, but every man worthy of the name desires to play his part in securing the safety of the nation. One feature of the Prime Minister’s speech appears to have been forgotten by the Opposition. The right honorable member made it clear that the new plan was to be flexible; expenditure would be either increased or decreased according to the trend of international affairs. He assured the public that the programme would be under constant review by both the Government and the Defence Council, and that the policy would vary as the international situation, and the general requirements of the British Empire, demanded. I support whole-heartedly the programme submitted by the Government, although I deplore the international situation which makes it necessary.
Since the last budget was prepared, the international tension has increased unmistakably. For that reason the Government has taken prompt steps to increase the defence expenditure in order to ensure national security. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said to-day that the difficulty of protecting our trade routes would be so much greater in the next war than in the last one, that he was confident that they could not be kept safe.
– Hear, hear!
– It would be a suicidal policy, disastrous in the extreme, to abandon ali hope of keeping our trade routes open. During the recent electoral campaign, honorable gentlemen opposite advocated a policy of isolation and urged that Australia should stand on its own and not co-operate with other parts of the Empire. If that policy were followed it is certain that our trade routes would not be kept open. The policy of the Opposition is contrary to the advice of experts, both in Australia and overseas. Fortunately, it was rejected by the people. Australia’s progress and development depend on the sale overseas of its surplus primary products. The following table shows clearly that for our primary products the United Kingdom is undoubtedly Australia’s best customer : -
If we lose control of the trade routes we shall automatically lose the market in Great Britain. That would mean an immediate glut in the Australian market, with a corresponding fall of prices. Should the primary producers be ruined, Australia’s secondary industries, which depend largely on funds made available by the sale of our primary products oversea, will suffer. When the prices of primary products fail, every one suffers, industry is brought into confusion, unemployment increases, and generally a state of chaos results. The basic cause of the recent depression was the decreased national income by about £250,000,000 caused by the lower prices received for Australian primary products sold overseas. Fortunately, prices have recovered, and, consequently, there is now greater prosperity all round.
The loss of our trade routes would mean not only that we should be unable to dispose of our surplus primary products, but also that we should be unable to obtain from outside Australia many of the things necessary for our national development, such as oils and petrol. Without oil, our air force machines could not leave the ground, whilst our naval vessels would be forced to remain in our harbours. The Government’s programme means that, by cooperating with the rest of the British Empire in the maintenance of sea transport, Australia will be able to obtain necessary supplies and dispose of its surplus products. A policy of isolation or of half beartedness will not help Australia ; yet this is the policy of honorable members opposite. Such a policy constitutes an invitation to other nations to attack Australia.
My main criticism of the Government’s proposals is that the establishment of a sound system of aerial defence has been too long delayed, and that inadequate provision has been made for our militia forces. Because of the urgent need to speed up our aerial defence, I welcome the visit of the Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force, who will visit Australia at an early date. While appreciating and applauding the patriotism of the 35,000 men who are voluntarily in our militia forces, I regret that their training is inadequate. Battalion commanders and other ranks do not receive the encouragement from the general staff that they deserve. The period of training is altogether inadequate, and the pay is unreasonable. A period of twelve half days’ training and six days in camp is hopelessly inadequate. Actually, a camp of six days gives not more than four days’ training, because one day is spent in going to camp, and another in clearing up and returning home. Greater scope and more financial assistance should be given to battalion commanders. A special fund should be established to provide for week-end bivouacs, and the pay should be increased.
Another difficulty is the constant flow in and out of the various companies. Much of the work is irksome and uninteresting, largely because the flow does not permit the commanders to give more than elementary training. Much more attention should be given to the building up of our militia forces. ~No military position can be captured, nor can a raid or attack be effectively repulsed without infantry, or mounted infantry. The Minister must give more attention to these important arms of our defence forces.
At present recruiting is somewhat spasmodic. In the circumstances that exist in the world to-day, a sustained effort should be made to obtain more recruits. To that end the training should be made more interesting. The mechanization of the weapons of defence means that long training is necessary before men become highly efficient in their use. It is imperative that an appeal be made to all employers to allow their employees to attend camps for continuous training and to encourage them to join the militia.
Much can be said for and against the system of universal military training. I have come to the conclusion that such a system could not and should not be instituted in Australia in time of peace without an appeal to the people by means of a referendum. I say, nevertheless, should circumstances arise in which it appears that Australia is liable to immediate attack, that that policy will have to be given effect. The Government should concentrate on creating greater numbers of our instructional staff, so that in any emergency the trained personnel would be ready immediately to instruct our young manhood in the art of attack and defence. I invite the Government to give greater attention to the needs of rifle clubs, and to encourage those clubs to maintain a closer cooperation and liaison with the militia. Many riflemen throughout ‘ Australia are desirous of forming clubs with assistance from the Government in the building of rifle ranges, but as far as I know that sympathetic assistance which ought to be forthcoming is not evident.
The Labour party desires to break away from Great Britain, and to adopt a policy of isolation which I regard as a policy of suicidal insanity. The only effective guarantee of national security for Australia in time of international tension is co-operation with Great Britain. In the interests, not only Qf Australia, but also of the rest of the Empire, it is imperative that the Government should earnestly proceed with the policy that has been laid down. Any recent improvement of international relations in Europe is attributable to the substantial improvement of Great Britain’s defences. Great Britain’s expenditure of £1,500,000,000 on defence, and its indication that it will spend much more if the circumstances require it, has shown to the world how determined it is to defend itself, and to co-operate with the rest of the Empire in Empire defence, with, the result that European countries generally have adopted a changed attitude towards our Motherland. If we in the southern hemisphere are similarly to ensure peace in Australia ; if we are not to be molested in any way we must follow Britain’s example, and rapidly increase our defences. Only when Australian defences have been developed to the standard now aimed at can this country confidently look forward to a continuation of peace.
– I, like everybody else, recognize the seriousness of the bill now before the House, and of all that it portends to the people of Australia. Even if we had not heard the speeches of several members opposite, men whom we know are experts, many being members of the military forces, and holding strong convictions which form a guide to others anxious to understand, we would consider the question of defence a very serious problem to the people of Australia. But what is the logical outcome of the carrying of this bill? Surely those of us who have listened to this debate, and to the definite statements of the honorable members for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) and Corangamite (Mr. Street), and others who know what they are talking about, must reach the ultimate conclusion that this bil! means the beginning of an expenditure which must be continually increased. It must result in an increase of the number of our permanent forces, and will lead, inevitably, to the adoption of a system of universal military training. That is the only logical outcome of the Government’s defence proposals. “We have heard tonight of the need for a standing army, and for an increased staff, in all branches, naval, military and air, in order to train the increased number of recruits necessary to implement this plan; also of the need to increase the pay of the forces, and to make their conditions more attractive, and that we must continually supplement the defence measures we are considering to-night, which are only a beginning. But I remind honorable members that only si.x or seven months ago the people of Australia were absolutely astounded at the large defence budget to which this chamber was asked to give its approval. The then Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) made an elaborate verbal and printed explanation of the then proposals, so that he might satisfy the people of Australia that that immense expenditure of money on defence, which was the highest peace-time vote since federation, was warranted. Why, six or seven months later, should we be asked to pass a bill which imposes upon the people of Australia an expenditure three times greater than that formerly proposed? Does the international situation warrant this panicky piece of legislation? Why should we place on the shoulders of the people the burden which must follow from the measure now before us, unless it be that some great change has taken place in the international situation during the last six months, and has made it absolutely urgent and necessary? Let us examine, not our own puny viewpoint upon this subject, but the opinion of experts all over the world who have endeavoured to draw a picture of what the situation was six months ago, when the last defence appropriation was passed by this Parliament, and compare it with the situation as we find it to-day and see if Australia’s position is not better and the fear of being involved in war much more remote. I remember at that time that we were more tightly tied to the League of Nations than we are to-day; our affiliation with the League of Nations both before and at that period carried very serious obligations. Our promise to implement sanctions during the Abyssinian crisis created a very serious position in Australia that might momentarily have involved Australia in the vortex of war. At that time one of our own cruisers was in the Mediterranean Sea, right in the cockpit of war had war taken place. But now I am. sorry to say the League is dead and our responsibility to the League is also dead. Such were the difficulties that confronted us only six or seven months ago. Since then, unless Cabinet ‘ has some secret information of which we know nothing, the Mediterranean crisis has been satisfactorily settled. The crisis which then confronted the people of Australia, as well as the rest of the world, was brought about because Great Britain had failed to reach an agreement with Italy over tlie separate interests of each country in Abyssinia. Both countries had tried, as every honorable member knows, for months on end whilst that conflict was simmering, to come to some understanding as to how their separate interests were to be preserved in that coveted territory, but. no agreement could be arrived at and the Abyssinian war took place with all the consequent horrors and bloodshed. And now we find that the agreement which both countries had endeavoured to achieve before the conflict has been signed and sealed now that the Abyssinian crisis is supposed to be over. The conflicting interests of the two ‘ nations have been straightened out, so we are told, and large credits, somewhat on the basis of those which Britain advanced to Italy in 1914-1915 are being made by Great Britain to Italy, not on this occasion to implement Italian inroads into Abyssinia, but in an attempt to improve the internal economic situation in Italy and thus prevent a rising of the Italian people. Even a casual survey of the international situation today by one with an open mind on this question must convince one that the possibilities of Australia being involved in war to-day are much more remote than they were six months, seven months, or twelve months ago. Apart altogether from the very delicate situation in the Mediterranean, surely there are other signs that must force us to the conclusion that our position is much better and not much worse than it was six or seven months ago. Is it not true to say that the situation between Japan and Great Britain has altogether changed ? Surely it is recognized by those who know something of internal Japan that internal conditions in that country have also changed. ‘Is it not known by those who write with knowledge of internal Japan that the reason for Japan’s rash and ruthless haste in its present conflict with China during which it has insulted representatives of every nation in the world, is its urgent need to end this conflict as quickly as possible because of internal unrest? Those who try to study international history from its industrial and economic viewpoint know these things to be so. The internal conditions in Italy and the internal industrial unrest in Japan and Germany are the real factors which will operate to save Australia and the rest of the world from another war. I am firmly of the conviction that Australia and the rest of the world will be saved from war because of the internal discontent bottled up by dictators where they exist in Europe and because of internal discontent also bottled up in Japan. The belief in the world to-day is that the two real reasons which prevent war are, first, that no country dares take a large force outside its own borders to attack another country lest its own people will seize the opportunity to give vent to their bottled up discontent - the fear of the great masses of the people in those countries . rising against those in power is a great factor in the maintenance of world peace to-day - and secondly, the knowledge that you cannot destroy or weaken other nations without ruining your own. Because of that, I object to this extra expenditure for defence purposes. As an individual representing a large electorate to which I am responsible and Australia as a whole, .1 say that this panicky legislation is unnecessary. There is ‘”“> i-»i<?nn why we should be involved in a defence policy which has in it the elements of aggression rather than self-preservation. It has in it elements which cannot be regarded as purely defensive and which will not promote good relations with our Pacific neighbours, but are rather in the nature of gestures of offence and aggression. For that reason alone I should object to that portion of the bill, even if I did not object to the whole of the increased expenditure on armaments which can be described not as armaments of defence, but only as armaments of aggression. I object to the proposed expenditure abroad, not only because it takes money out of Australia and helps to depress the economic conditions of the people of Australia, but also because it is not a logical way of developing a real defensive force in Australia. The elementary basis of any defence scheme must be a continual improvement of the technical knowledge of our people, and, if we are going to buy naval vessels abroad rather than build them in this country, how can we help to make our country selfcontained and self-reliant? I object, therefore, to the expenditure of many millions of pounds on the purchase of naval vessels in Great Britain. That is an un-Australian policy which cannot strengthen the defences of this country. I am opposed also to the expenditure of £1,000,000 in Australia in helping to improve the plant and equipment of private manufacturing firms. I have never objected to the Government of the Commonwealth subsidizing the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research to investigate and help industries of a normal economic condition, but I do protest against the expenditure of £1,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money in improving plant and equipment of private firms, supplying them with blue prints and patterns, and in lending to them skilled artisans from government workshops, thus encouraging the greatest evil that exists in the world to-day - profit-making from the private manufacture of armaments. I remember that with relief and satisfaction I heard the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) declare a few months ago when, as an appeal or a warning, I spoke against the private manufacture of armaments, that no move would be made by the Government to encourage that kind of industry in this country. The Treasurer said that he did not believe in private enterprise engaging in such work. Yet it is to be allowed. It is within the knowledge of every honorable member of this House that for 10 years or more, every international conference, every meeting of the League of Nations and every great economic conference held to discover how world stability could be regained, have carried resolutions to the effect that there can be no peace in the world until the private manufacture of armaments is stamped out by law and made illegal.
– Those conferences have always said that the main thing necessary for the promotion of world peace is the removal of tariff barriers.
– Admitting that those conferences discussed the dangers of economic nationalism and the tariff barriers that had been raised, always someone has moved and someone seconded a resolution, which was carried unanimously, advocating the abolition of the private armaments trade;; for no meeting of men or women, no matter what their class, would dare to vote against a motion asking the governments of the world to prohibit by law the right of private enterprise to make profits out of arms and munitions. Yet this Government is setting aside £1,000,000 in order to help to equip and make modern the plant and layout of private firms in this country which will engage in this nefarious traffic. I declare now that only one or two firms will enjoy this rich plum. The smaller engineering workshops have been asked to tender - for the manufacture of shells, shell cases and other munitions of war, but they have had to refuse because they are operating on too small a scale to be able to reorganize themselves to engage in the munitions industry on a profitable basis. As a matter of fact, it was never intended that any of these small firms should have the opportunity to engage in this work. From the beginning it was intended that a few enterprises, associated with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) have always opposed on the floor of this House because of the. high prices that they charge for galvanized iron and the like, should have the monopoly of the manufacture of arms and munitions in Australia.
– What about General Motors-Holdens Limited ?
– That firm is no doubt interlocked with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I am certain that the 20 or 30 persons who are associated with the organizations which will lend this £10,300,000 are also linked with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, the big oil companies and other wealthy concerns. They will also benefit from the spending of the money. Goodness knows how many more millions of pounds will be borrowed if the suggestions of military-minded honorable members on the Government side of the House are effectuated. That effect will be given to them is certain, because this enhanced military programme would never be successful otherwise. The whole scheme is snowball-like and it will ever grow because, unless it does grow overhead expenses will be too great.
I need not remind the House that the amount of £300,000 by which this proposed loan will exceed £10,000,000 has no relation to interest payments. It concerns preliminary expenses such as flotation costs &c, which commission agents call “pin money”. The £10,300,000 which we are about to borrow, if Parliament gives its approval of this measure, will cost this country nearly £5,000,000 in interest. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that I shall be permitted to have embodied in Hansard a statement of loans raised in Australia through the Loan Council in the last four years for Commonwealth and State governmental activities, which I offer as proof of my contention that this loan will cost not £300,000, but £4,300,000 or more.
– I hope that the figures are relevant to this bill.
– I submit that they are. In the last four years a total of £67,136,313 has been raised by the Commonwealth and State governments for governmental activities, and for that amount we have had to pay in interest £33,933,514, which is nearly half of the total amount borrowed.
– Order ! That is not relevant to the hill and obviously I cannot allow to be incorporated in Hansard matter which I have ruled to be irrelevant in debate.
– I submit that the member for Melbourne Ports is merely showing that the cost of the loan which thisbill contemplates is going to be very large, and he is citing the cost of loans raised quite recently in order to give factual support to his contention.
– Order ! It appears to me that if that were permitted honorable members could refer to all expenditure in connexion with the raising of loans and all the costs associated with the raising of money by Governments, whether it be by taxation or anything else.
– I object to the proposed loan because of the cost involved in interest, brokerage and commission. In order to prove how expensive the loan will be I wish to cite the cost of similar loans in the last four years. I accordingly ask leave of the House to incorporate in Hansard a statement furnished to me by the Treasury. To obtain this information I went to considerable trouble.
– I shall submit the question to the House, but I first point out that the honorable member will not be allowed to have irrelevant details put into Hansard. Subject to that limitation is it the wish of the House that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports have leave to incorporate in Hansard the statement to which he has referred ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– I now submit this -
The people should know what these loans cost. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) said that the raising of the loan in question in the manner proposed by the Government would not impose any burden upon the great mass of the people. I suggest that indirect taxation is imposed upon everybody, in order to meet the interest burden, to- gether with the brokerage and commission charges involved in the flotation of loans. If the Government were really an Australian government and had been possessed of sufficient patriotism to obtain from the Commonwealth Bank credits in respect of the £60,000,000 borrowed during the last four years, the £33,000,000 paid in interest on those loans would have been returned to the bank and would be again available to meet the expense of the warlike activities now proposed by the Government. The only reason why such a course is not adopted even now, so far as I can see, is that the Government regards private enterprise, even banking, as sacrosanct. To meet the cost, of defending the wealth of Australia, we should utilize the Commonwealth Bank. My own opinion is that that hank, backed by the securities Australia possesses, could supply the necessary credits to meet our defence operations without earning any interest at all. That could be done without departing from any principle, as the practice is understood all over the world and has been resorted to by England and other countries on many occasions. If, adopting the advice offered in the last report of the Banking Commission, that the Government should decide the policy of the Commonwealth Bank, this Government suggested to the governing authorities of the bank thai in future Australia would raise all loans through the bank, on such loans interest could he paid at the rates applicable to the loans floated during the last four years, to which I referred a moment ago, but the difference would be that that interest, instead of going to private institutions, would be earned by the Commonwealth Bank.
There is, I suggest, nothing revolutionary in that proposal. It means only that the Government would then be a real Australian government, sufficiently patriotic to patronize its own institution and to remember that it should servo not merely the private banking institutions, but the people as a whole. The reason why that course has not been adopted is that such action would, to a large extent, encroach upon the preserves of the financial institutions. I assert that the individuals who are largely interested in private banks in this country, and who will share profits amounting to millions of pounds earned upon this and subsequent loans, are also interested in the manufacture of arms and munitions which will be sold to the Government. They will thus benefit in two ways. They will lend money to the Government for the carrying out of defence works and with that money the Government will buy the materials which the lenders have supplied. After paying half the amount of the loan in interest during the period of the loan - eleven or twelve years - we shall still owe the full amount, and if the loan is renewed, we will again pay in interest half the principal amount, although, of course, the full amount of the loan will still be owing, which means that in 24 years we will pay the £10,000,000 ‘in interest and we will still owe the £10,000,000 borrowed.
The Government should, I contend, be patriotic enough to adopt the suggestions made by the Banking “Commission and say, “ In carrying out these defence operations we shall eliminate the profits private bankers have made so regularly out of governmental activities, and raise the money required through our own banking institution; if necessary, the interest may go into the revenue of the bank.
If the security behind the Commonwealth Bank was good enough to permit of the advance of £50,000,000 to make it possible for the State Sa vin irs Bank of New South Wales to re-open its doors and resume business, it certainly should be strong enough to enable the bank to advance £10,000,000 to the Commonwealth Government. It is, I suggest, a political crime to endeavour to satisfy the avarice of the private banking institutions by permitting them to obtain profits from the money necessary to carry out the defence of the country.
I oppose the bill because it is a loan bill, and because the extra expenditure over and above that agreed upon six or seven months ago is unnecessary. I oppose it also because the Government has given no explanation of the international situation that would warrant this additional expenditure, and because this programme must inevitably lead to further expenditure in order that the plan of defence may be logical and not top-heavy. More expenditure must, be involved in filling the ranks and in malting the machinery which has been set up function satisfactorily, and to continue borrowing money in the same old way from private banking institutions, so that half the capital amount is paid in interest, will impose a burden of both direct and indirect taxation upon the people that they will not be able to bear.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) usually makes a very thoughtful contribution to discussions in this House, and with the latter portion of his speech I am, with qualifications, in accord, because I dislike the idea of raising a loan for defence purposes. I should much prefer the money to be raised by taxation, possibly of surplus profits, because the employer and the property-owner usually have most to lose as a result of war and should, therefore, be called upon to contribute in no small measure to the defence of the country. Although I am for that reason, but with certain qualifications, in agreement with the honorable member, that is not sufficient to cause me to dissociate myself from the Government in respect of this measure. Bearing in mind the information possessed by the department concerned, if the Government intends to carry out a defence scheme and is of the opinion that the only means by which it can raise sufficient funds to finance that scheme is upon the lines proposed, I would not attempt to “ spike “ the scheme merely to support an objection I have to floating loans for defence purposes. I hope the Government will reconsider the matter and will decide not to proceed with its loan proposal.
As regards the earlier portion of the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, he did not succeed in convincing the House that his view was correct; in fact, I am perfectly satisfied that he did not even convince himself. To me it seemed that he was merely prefacing his remarks with respect to loans generally by an assumption. I suggest to him that, if he desires any reason for the proposed expansion of the defence scheme, the international situation is sufficient to warrant that action being taken, although I, perhaps, might place upon it an interpretation different from that arrived at by him. This Government must be guided by the British Government which, of course, is in much closer touch with the international situation; consequently the Commonwealth Government feels justified in introducing the comprehensive defence policy outlined by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). Obviously, there must be reasons other than those known to us why the British Government has found itself obliged to expand its defence scheme. The factors which have influenced that Government to act as it has, have also a very important bearing upon Australia, and our defence policy must be framed to function in cooperation with British policy. Possibly the fact that the League of Nations has ceased to be an effective force in international affairs has necessitated the steps which are now being taken, not only by Great Britain, but also by Australia. Another reason for the adoption of this policy may be that Mr. Anthony Eden, who stood four-square behind the League, has been dethroned, and there is now a definite leaning from the League by the British Government. That in itself may be sufficient to influence the Government to adopt a more effective scheme. So long as Fascism and Nazism are influencing world affairs, democracy must be definitely threatened and endangered. The absorption of Austria by Germany, and the threat to Czechoslovakia by the latter country are . sufficient to cause Great Britain to strengthen its defences and. consolidate the whole of the Empire so far as possible by moans of an Empire defence scheme. The disinclination of the Government to supply the House with details of the £10,300,000 to be expended - a point upon which the Government has received a good deal of criticism - may be due to the fact that this is a matter of urgency, and that immediate co-operation between. Great Britain and the Commonwealth is essential. Even if it were desirable, it would ‘ take considerable time to supply the House with the details of the proposed expenditure as suggested by honorable members opposite. ‘ Those who have opposed the Government’s defence policy cannot be said to be disloyal, because I believe that they are just as anxious as we are to -do the best for Australia. Honorable members opposite have talked a lot about an adequate defence policy, but that means little or nothing unless they explain exactly what such a policy embraces. Honorable members on this side have at least stated what they mean by adequate defence, and have also submitted some constructive criticism. In view of the position in China, which may have been exaggerated to some extent, the possibilities of a conflict in Europe, and the position in the Mediterranean, the Government is justified in launching a defence scheme that will provide for the proper protection of this country. If, as a result of complications arising out of international bitterness and jealousies, war should occur and find us unprepared, those who are opposing the Government’s policy would be subject to rigorous criticism and would have to answer to the Australian people. The fact that armed forces of European nations are greater to-day than they were at the outbreak of the Great War should compel us to give this measure our support. Europe and Asia are armed camps and, in consequence of the rapid development which has taken place in aviation, we are, in effect, closer to the possible centre of disturbance than: we have ever been. In these circumstances, we should see if we cannot place Australia’s defence in such a position that we shall not be open to the criticism of experts. Immediately following the Great War, we adopted a peace-time standard which may have been justified. We were then engaged in’ rehabilitating the country, and had reason to hope that the world would not be plunged into another major war for many years. But peacetime standards can no longer be regarded as adequate. At present the strength of our militia forces is under 35,000, which is quite inadequate to defend a country 25 times larger than Great Britain, and with a coastline of 12,000 miles. The Government realizes this, and, in extending its defence system, is seeking the authority of Parliament to borrow the amount mentioned in the bill to provide a system of defence commensurate with the conditions obtaining to-day. Some of the suggestions made here may be submitted to experts for consideration and others tabulated for future reference.
We should realize the important part which we must take in this great scheme of Empire defence, and without delay make a complete survey of the whole of our resources - a survey not only of our productive capacity in foodstuffs and raw materials, but also of our secondary industries and our man power. We should have a grouping of all men of military age, and of those men who would be required in industry so that, in time of emergency, they could immediately take their places in a gigantic scheme of Empire defence. We should also arrange for skeleton dumps of foodstuffs and the necessary materials for warfare, in order that, if war occurred, we might have a complete organization for effective operation.
I have said that the peace-time strength of our militia forces is not sufficient. We should have at least double the present number, with the necessary increase of_our permanent forces. I incline to the belief that the indication given by the Minister concerning the increase of warrant officers and instructors foreshadows the re-introduction by t.hp. Government of some form of universal training, if it is not intended, to persevere with the voluntary system.
In any discussion of the Government’s defence programme we should make a thorough examination of all arms of the service and consider the probable action to be taken by a potential enemy. Australia being an island continent, the Navy must be our first line of defence. But Empire considerations require that a defence policy to be adequate must fit into the great mosaic of Empire defence. Australia cannot expect to formulate its defence programme without regard to other parts of the Empire. The scheme advocated by honorable members opposite is purely isolationist in character. It pays no regard to the ramifications of the Empire and Australia’s responsibility as part of it. A balanced Empire defence scheme, ensuring the co-operation of all the dominions must be the greatest deterrent to a potential enemy. The defence policy of the Opposition is, I repeat, isolationist in character, and is militarily unsound. Napoleon’s policy in dealing with his enemies was expressed in the motto - “ Divide and conquer. “ We now realize that if in defence matters. the various units of the British Empire were divided, each endeavouring to secure its own security without regard to the safety of others they would become easy prey for an aggressor nation. As I see it, Australia’s defence policy must be a composite one. In every detail,’ it must fit in with the greater scheme of Empire defence. Therefore, our aim should be to adopt a plan which will give the greatest degree of protection to Australia itself, and at the same time, furnish effective and mobile forces to play their part in the greater scheme of Empire defence.”
Some honorable members have questioned the value of Singapore as a naval base. I cannot conceive of any Australian naval defence scheme being successful unless it is based on Singapore, which I regard as Australia’s eastern frontier. I envisage Singapore as a base to be used by the Australian Navy in time of stress - as a jumping off place for possible raids by British cruisers, and I consider that Darwin as a supplementary base will have great strategic value. Singapore is a ‘necessary adjunct to our naval defence scheme, and I congratulate the Government on the expansion of its programme to ensure greater protection for our seaborne trade. When we realize that during the period when our national income was in the vicinity of £650,000,000, our seaborne trade amounted to £290,000,000, and when we recall the suffering caused during the depression when the national income dropped to £435,000,000 and our overseas trade to £130,000,000, we get a clear picture of what a complete dislocation of our seaborne trade would mean. Therefore, the Government’s programme for the expansion of our naval forces has definite value as part of the wider scheme of Empire defence, as well as affording more adequate protection for Australia’s seaborne trade. I agree to a certain extent with some of the criticism of honorable members opposite concerning the effectiveness of a cruiser squadron, but I do not agree that cruisers are not necessary. Experience has shown that their speed and striking power provide the necessary protection for our commerce lanes. A battleship or battle cruiser would hardly be used for this purpose, the function of such vessels being to determine major naval engagements. I believe that the establishment of the naval base at Singapore foreshadows the establishment of a British Pacific fleet comprising capital ships and cruisers to ensure the safety of Australia and other British possessions in the Far East. The best way to overcome the danger of attack would be to develop the speed and striking power of the forces opposed to the potential enemy. The combination of the Singapore base and our own cruisers is of great importance in Australia’s defence plan. This country has definite obligations with regard to Singapore, which certainly stands between us and any threat of invasion from eastern waters. Australia has not directly contributed to the cost of the Singapore base as New Zealand has, and as Australia will, I believe, ultimately become the centre for the manufacture of munitions in the Pacific, and, possibly, the centre for the distribution of armaments throughout the British possessions in the Pacific, I think that we have a definite obligation with regard to the Singapore base, and may have to garrison it. If war occurred, Australia would probably be called upon to supply and maintain a garrison there, and, possibly, to divert most of its forces there to protect this base which I believe is necessary to our very existence. Therefore, I suggest that we should take full advantage of what Singapore has to offer as a training ground by sending detachments there for general experience.
I direct the attention of the Minister for Defence to the marked difference in the conditions operating between the officers of the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve. The volunteer reserve contains officers formerly in the merchant service who hold a ticket, and can take a ship to sea, whilst the Royal Naval Reserve is composed of men who, in the main, have no knowledge of navigation, and cannot handle ships at sea. There are ready means whereby we could weave into t,be naval reserve the type of men who have come out of the merchant service and are prepared to maintain their contact with the deep sea.
– A special school was opened in Sydney yesterday, and in Melbourne to-day, for the training of exmembers of the merchant service to meet any emergency. The volunteer reserve is not entirely composed of men with experience of the mercantile marine.
– At Rushcutters Bay 99 per cent, of the officers of the volunteer reserve hold tickets.
– That is in one depot, but it does not apply generally throughout the reserve.
– At Rushcutters Bay we have an excellent depot, but the members of the regular reserve find their training possibly a little irksome, because they cannot get the firsthand experience that would be imparted aboard a sloop or destroyer. I urge the Minister to consider the placing at their disposal of one of the sloops that may be out of commission, to enable the rank and file to receive the best form of training available. In the past, naval vessels have been left to rust in Sydney Harbour while these men have been required to carry out routine training ashore. If a destroyer had been made available to them, they would have received encouragement, and would have been enabled to obtain more useful training.
Now consider the army. Whilst it is generally acknowledged that untrained and poorly armed men are a menace to the safety of any country, and that modern equipment and armament are necessary, in the final analysis the security of a country depends almost entirely on the man-power that it can command. As the present world conditions demand a departure from peace time standards, and as our main danger will be from raids on seaport towns, and raids associated with the landing of armed forces to destroy big industrial centres, some increase of our militia forces is essential. If we cannot get the necessary recruits under the voluntary system, compulsory training should be introduced. Even though we might increase our militia forces to afford protection against possible raids, that would not be a sufficient deterrent if any nation decided to invade this country, or to raid it on a large scale. Therefore, it is necessary to provide for a defence force sufficiently large to act as a deterrent to invasion. Adequate local defence is the best deterrent we can have. The present system of recruiting does not give us the type or the number of men required. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt), and other honorable members, have pointed out during this debate that considerably fewer volunteers are rejected now than was the case some years ago. The medical examination of recruits is less rigorous than formerly.
– I should be astonished to learn that.
– The honorable member for Fawkner showed that the number of recruits rejected at the present time is 28 per cent, lower than formerly.
– That does not mean that the physical standard has deteriorated. It may mean that the quality of the applicants has, on the whole, improved.
– How can the honorable gentleman suggest that, when it is well known that about 35 per cent, of the total population are being treated in public hospitals? I suggest that the honorable member is putting forward something which he knows is not correct. If he will study the type of trainee now undergoing training, he will soon be convinced that the authorities have lowered the standard considerably, possibly because they have found difficulty in attracting suitable men.
– Does the Minister agree with that statement?
– Under a system of compulsory examination, all the unfit have to be examined, only to be rejected, whereas, under the voluntary system, those who believe that they are really unfit do not offer. That is one of the reasons for the figures which have been quoted.
– I suggest that the figures quoted by the honorable member for Fawkner apply, not to the compulsory system, but to the voluntary system which was in operation previously. The figures supplied to the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) should convince any honorable member that the standard of physical fitness required of members of the volunteer forces is not so high as it was previously. If we are to attract the right type of man, conditions must be improved. It has been suggested that voluntary enlistment should be made sufficiently remunerative to cause men to take an active interest in the defence of their country. With that suggestion I agree. No man should be asked to defend the property of others unless he is paid reasonable remuneration for his services. In my opinion smarter uniforms should also be provided, not necessarily for field service, but as parade dress. I suggest something similar to the uniforms worn, by guards’ regiments overseas. They have attracted youths elsewhere, and the effect in Australia might be the same. I am certain that something of the kind will have to be done in the near future. I also advocate more outdoor training. Drill within halls should be avoided as much as possible. If the Government wants to make training attractive, it must provide for week-end bivouacs, where men can receive training under active service conditions, and be permitted to fire live ammunition instead of dummies.
It is incumbent on the ‘Government to see that any man who is sufficiently patriotic to join the volunteer forces shall be given security of employment by his employer. An employer who wishes his possessions to be protected should be willing to give security of employment to those who are prepared to protect them. I know of some employers who penalize those of their employees who desire to attend military training camps, and therefore I suggest that the Minister should cause a survey to be made of the conditions obtaining in industry in this connexion.
If the volunteer system does not prove satisfactory, I strongly advocate the adoption of universal military training. I do so for many reasons. In the first place, it would tend to improve the physique of the young men of this country. Even if we do not definitely link them up with arms and armaments immediately, I suggest that youths be trained in discipline and physique, somewhat along the lines of the labour battalions in Germany, whose members, it was said, have merely to substitute rifles for shovels to be well-trained soldiers. Such a scheme of training would help to develop strong, healthy men, who should exist in greater numbers in a country that offers the facilities that Australia offers. Moreover, the training should be training in a true sense of the word. In that respect the previous compulsory effort that Australia made was a farce. There was no proper discipline or training, and much of the time of the trainees was wasted. If there is to be a compulsory system, the training should be 100 per cent, efficient, and sufficient remuneration should be paid to the men who come under it.
I make a strong plea for more interest by the Defence Department in the physical training of the youth of Australia in our schools. The figures quoted by the honorable member for Fawkner are sufficiently staggering to warrant that interest being taken. In the past, defence officers took an active part in the training of teachers who, in turn, instructed the- boys in the schools. Partly as a result of thattraining, members of the Australian Imperial Force achieved a world-wide reputation for their fine physique. The last war brought home clearly to all those who were associated with it that the mere training of troops in the use of arms is not all that is required to make efficient soldiers. As the honorable member for Henty said, the glorious failure at Gallipoli was sufficient to convince him of that. On the western front, American troops when sent into action on their own, suffered such heavy casualties because of lack of experience that later they were attached to Australian divisions in order to gain experience. As a gunner who served in the last war, I know that men, after receiving some training in Australia and, later, further training in England at Salisbury Plains, Heytesbury and Lark Hill, were, on being drafted to France, placed with men who had had battle experience. The presence of men trained in battle tactics had a wonderfully steadying effect on the reinforcements, who, too, became proficient within a short time. My point is that the training of men in Australia in arms and armaments is not sufficient. We should insist on having detachments participate in training under active service conditions in India or Arabia, or elsewhere, where they can gain experience of the right kind. A leavening of nien who have had battle practice would have a steadying effect, and provide the volunteers with comrades on whom they could rely in time of need.
Having in mind that the Air Force cannot be entirely independent, but must co-operate with mobile land forces as We, as the Navy, efforts should be made to encourage airmindedness among the youths of Australia. Greater interest should be taken in organizations such as the Australia Air league, which are doing much for the youth of Australia.
I have no doubt that the Air Force is trained to co-operate with the other arms of our defence force, but I suggest that if it is not already part of their training, pilots be trained to discover and identify vessels approaching the Australian coast. I suggest also that bases be established at Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. All of these measures, to my mind, are essential for the effective aerial defence of Australia. Although they are only the suggestions of a layman, I have no doubt that many of them have been taken into consideration, but if they aTe not at the moment being considered, I request that they be placed before those competent to give them the necessary consideration. While commending it for its excellent proposals for the expansion of our defence scheme, I feel, with the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), that the Government has not gone either far or fast enough. I should like to see a measure brought down to extract sufficient taxes from the people, not only to satisfy our requirements of arms and armaments and the expense of the mechanization of the various units, but also to permit the Government to take into consideration the organization of greater man power than we have at the moment. Although this bill provides for arms and armaments and for the mechanization of units, in the final analysis man power will be the deciding factor.
– The Government has provided for an increase of the regular forces from 6,000 to 8.000.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Thorby) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Recently the Arbitration Court in Melbourne dealt with the working conditions of members of the Operative Stonemasons Society. In the course of the hearing, evidence was brought forward concerning the ill effects of their work. Of fourteen members of the society who had been examined by a medical man, nine were found to be suffering very badly from silicosis. Although the Arbitration Court judge was impressed by this evidence, he feared that the fourteen men might have been specially selected for the test, and said that he would ask the Government to instruct the Commonwealth Health Department to conduct a wider investigation. I shall be glad if the Minister will look into this matter, to see if such a request has been made, and, if so, what has been done about it.
– I shall make inquiries, and inform the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
If further taxation is found necessary to finance the declared defence programme, will he consider the imposition of a super tax on all company earnings in excess of 12 per cent., the proceeds to he devoted exclusively to financing the defence programme?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
I am unable to give any indication at this juncture as to what methods will be explored in connexion with the question pf defence finance when framing the budget of next year, but I cun assure the honorable member the matter will receive the widest consideration possible.
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the necessity for exploiting every n venue for the internal arrangements for the defence of the Commonwealth, will he arrange to have put iu workable order the floating dock which at present is rotting and rusting in Newcastle harbour?
– Tlie answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Tlie dock is under the control of the Government of New South Wales, who are under obligation to maintain it and its equipment in good order and condition. Arrangements will, however, be made for its condition to be investigated.
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the apparent impossibility of adequate supplies of those very vital weapons being obtained from Great Britain, will he inform tlie House if the Government proposes to manufacture the .5 anti-tank rifle and the two-pounder anti-tank gun in Australia!1,
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : - lt is not proposed to obtain the immediate requirements by manufacture in Australia, it is not in the interests of defence to give details of this matter publicly, but I am prepared to furnish additional information confidentially if the honorable member desires it.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When preparing the Estimates for the next financial year, will he increase the vote for the Literary Fund to provide a subsidy to assist Australian writers in the production of creative literature?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Tlie Commonwealth Literary Fund was established with the object of providing pensions for persons coming within the -following categories: - [a) authors who by reason of age or infirmity are unable to support themselves; (ft) families of literary men who have died poor; (a) literary men doing good work, but unable on account of poverty to persist in that work. It is not proposed to make provision for the payment of subsidies to assist writers in the production of creative literature.
y asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
Every submission of the Military Board to the Minister for Defence is a confidential defence departmental matter and, until such time as a decision has been made, information on any aspect concerning such submission, and particularly when such information concerns individual officers of the Military Forces, cannot bc made public.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - . .
In view of the fact that ample funds arc now available, as evidenced by the proposed enormous expenditure upon the provision of implements designed for the destruction of lifewill the Government reconsider its decision with respect to the rejection of an application for tlie granting of financial aid to State organizations to enable Australian children to be provided with a daily supply of milk, the reason given for rejection of the original application being that the Government had no funds from, which it could draw for this purpose?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Commonwealth Government, after giving close attention to various suggestions made to it on the subject of infant and child welfare, involving such questions as the availability of milk and other nutritious foods decided that as a first step its activities would best be directed towards the fostering of the care of young children between the ages at which they receive attention at the infant welfare centres and attention from school medical services. Provision has been made on the Estimate’s for the current financial year to enable this work to commence. The Premiers of the States have been informed of the work which the Commonwealth proposes to undertake.
Trade Agreement with Japan.
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Discussions are in progress between the Australian and Japanese Governments. Agreement has still to be reached on some issues.
asked the Acting Minis ter for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Reserves or Australian Wool in the United Kingdom.
s. - On the 29th April, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) asked me the following question, without notice -
Will the Prime Minister, if such action has not already been taken, ensure that the Commonwealth Ministers, on arrival in Great Britain, will discuss with the British Government the advisability of providing for the storage of adequate supplies of wool in the United Kingdom, in case an emergency should arise rendering difficult the transport of this essential commodity?
I now desire to inform the honorable member that informationin the possession of the Commonwealth Government indicates that the Imperial authorities appreciate the importance of adequate supplies of wool being available to meet the requirements of the United Kingdom in a national emergency and have reached conclusions as to measures which are deemed to be necessary in order to achieve that objective.
s. - On the 28th April, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Some time ago the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Ogilvie, asked the Commonwealth authorities to make a marine survey of the Port of Hobart. Can the Prime Minister state whether this Government will be able to carry out the survey at an early date,- as it is required for defence and economic purposes?
I desire to inform the honorable member that, in connexion with representations made to the Commonwealth Government in February last urging that a hydrographic survey be made of the River Derwent, the Premier of Tasmania was informed that only one survey ship was available and that all surveying officers were required for service thereon. Further, in view of the work upon which the vessel was engaged, it was regretted that the Naval Board could not undertake the survey of Upper Derwent River this year.
In reply to an inquiry as to the conditions under which any survey arranged by the Marine Board, Hobart, would be accepted as authentic, the Premier was informed on the 15th March, 1938, that the naval authorities considered that a survey by the Marine Board would be acceptable if carried out by a qualified surveyor. Certain technical requirements specified by tho Naval Board in this connexion were communicated to the Premier.
y. - On the 29th April, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked the following questions, upon notice - 1. (a) What was the number of trainees in the militia forces during the twelve months’ period prior to the re-introduction by the Scullin Government ofthe voluntary training system?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows: - 1. (a) The number of trainees in the militia forces during the twelve months’ period prior to the re-introduction by the Scullin Government of the voluntary training system waa 43,700. This was in the year 1928-29.
(c)The estimated expenditurefor army purposes in 1937-38 is £3,000,000.
Wireless Broadcasting : B Class Licences in Tasmania.
Mr.Perkins. - On the 29th April, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) inquired whether arrangements could be made for the files dealing with the issuing of “ B “ broadcasting licences in Tasmania to be laid on the table of the Library.
I have since brought the matter to the notice of the Postmaster-General who, however, regrets that the files relating to the broadcasting stations of Tasmania cannot be made available.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 May 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19380503_reps_15_155/>.